RAWALPINDI - At last national game hockey, which was being suffering a lot due to step-motherly treatment by the government even after beating India in Champions Trophy and finishing there as silver medalist, and hockey players get a new ray of hope when Pakistan Army came forward to rescue the game with the aim of helping the players to regain the lost hockey glory.

Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) and Army Sports Directorate are jointly organising the first ever Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Challenge Hockey Cup which will roll into action at the Army Hockey Stadium here today (Thursday). The event is being organised with a collective resolve to make it an exemplary event.

Tournament Director Col (r) Nadeem Ahmed Bhatti, flanked by Army Sports Directorate secretary Col Aslam Bodla and Major Tariq, said: “It is the first time in the history of Pakistan hockey that a tournament after the name of COAS is being held and it will be regular feature of the annual calendar of the PHF. It is our collective effort to make it a huge success.”

Nadeem praised the Army Sports Directorate for organising this tournament in the city. “At a time when nobody is prepare to take the ownership of the national game, Army stepped in to rescue the hockey as government was not paying any heed to the national game. The whole nation is thankful to them for organising a national level tournament.”

Recalling great service of the armed forces in the field of hockey, Nadeem said: “Pakistan Army enjoys a splendid history in the game and many of its officials not only headed the PHF but were also part of the national hockey team which brought laurels in Olympics, World Cup and Champions Trophy.”

He said the winner of the event will walk away with a prize of Rs 100,000 while the runners-up and third position holder will get Rs 50,000 and Rs 30,000 respectively.

In his opening remarks, Col Bodla said: “Being the host of the tournament, Army has made every possible effort to ensure the comfort of the participating teams and the officials. I urge that we should make a collective endeavour to make this tournament a great success. This is our mutual interest to organise it in a befitting way.”

Nadeem said that 10 participating teams have been divided into two pools. Pool-A comprises PIA, Army (Senior), Punjab, PAF and Police while Pool-B consists of Wapda, NBP, SSGC, Navy and Army (Junior). Three matches will be played on the opening day. In the first one, Wapda will face NBP while Army (Senior) will vie against Police in the second and PIA to take on Punjab.