LAHORE - National Hockey Stadium is going to host an international event after a gap of long 24 years, where the star-studded World Hockey XI will take on Pakistan hockey team in the second match of the two-match series here today (Sunday).

Pakistan hosted its last grand hockey event in 1994, followed by the tours of China and Oman. China played a four-Test series in 2011 and Oman U-18 team played a Test series in 2016. Now after a long time, World XI, which comprise a galaxy of stars from top hockey nations, has been on visit to Pakistan, which ended the drought of international hockey in Pakistan and help the country revive international hockey here.

The year 1994 was dubbed as the golden year of Pakistan hockey as the green shirts under the captaincy of former Olympian Shahbaz Ahmad Senior, now Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) secretary, won two major titles to re-establish country’s status as hockey super power. Shahbaz helped Pakistan win the World Cup in Sydney and the Champions Trophy in Lahore, the last two major title victories till today.

The World XI tour has been arranged by the PHF to revive the game in which Pakistan is struggling at international level, with no title in grasp, not even at Asia level.

“It is a good omen for our national hockey that the world XI is playing in Pakistan and it is a big achievement on part of PHF to convince world known players of the game to play hockey in Pakistan as we have been deprived of high-profile events due to security situation in our country,” said Shahbaz here on Saturday.

He said the World XI has the services of five players from Holland, three each from Argentina and Spain, two each from Germany and New Zealand and one from Germany and all the players are of top stature due to their standing in the game.

“The Word XI tour has its own significance in many ways to bring back international hockey to Pakistan, to provide an ideal opportunity to our young players to play alongside the masters of hockey and to motivate the youth to take up hockey as a sport,” he added.

Shahbaz said the World XI tour is a step forward for the resumption of international hockey in Pakistan and to organise Pakistan Hockey League in April this year in a professional way. “The World XI tour is very vital for infusing a new life in our dying hockey, it will restore the confidence of other hockey nations for visiting Pakistan, it will create ideal opportunity for the lovers of the game to watch the big names of hockey in action in their own backyard,” he added.

The PHF secretary said the successful tour of the World XI will ensure a better tomorrow of Pakistan hockey.

PHF president Brig (r) Khlid Sajjad Khokhar has said that World Hockey XI tour to Pakistan will be a ‘game changer’ for ensuring the return of international hockey to Pakistan. “World XI tour will serve as trust building measure to inspire the other hockey playing nations to give consideration to visit Pakistan in near future besides playing its part in making the inaugural edition of Pakistan hockey league a success,” he said.

The PHF chief said the tour of World XI will give a positive message to the world that Pakistan is a safe country to hold top hockey events. “Our hockey suffered badly during over the past two decades as major international hockey did not take place in our country and no top hockey team visited us but the tour of the world xi has produced a ray of hope to re-start our hockey journey for regaining the lost glory,” he said.

He termed the visit of World XI a step forward for the bringing back international hockey to Pakistan and to re-organise the national sport with renewed zeal and zest.