LAHORE - Dubai will host the 2009 Asia Cup Hockey Tournament, it was learnt on Tuesday. The Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) executive council, which met in Hyderabad (India) last week took the decision to grant the event to Dubai. The dates of the tournament are yet to be finalised. "The city of Dubai has been given the right to host the 2009 senior Asia Cup. Our Federation took the decision to spread the game in the region," P. Alagendra, the AHF Secretary General, was quoted by Gulfnews. This will be the first time that Asia Cup will be staged in the Middle East region. Dubai Sports City's state of the art hockey stadium, which will be ready by the beginning of 2009 will be the venue for the event. Apart from the Asia Cup, the AHF Council also decided to organise the first Asian Champions Trophy for both men and women. There are also plans to stage a six-match Test series between Asia and Europe. Dubai may also stage this event. "The Asia Cup will give a big boost to the game in the region," remarked Khalid Esmail, the vice-president of the UAE Hockey Committee. "This event will attract more youngsters into the game and the UAE Hockey Committee under the leadership of our president Esmail Al Banna will do everything possible to utilise this tournament to popularise the game," he added. Raza Abidi, the chief co-ordinator of the UAE Hockey committee, said: "It is the biggest news in the history of UAE hockey. The lovers of the game have been starving to watch an international match especially an India-Pakistan match since 1996. This will boost the game here." The last time India and Pakistan clashed here was during the Dubai Gold Cup at Central Military Command ground in 1996. "We can be assured of a packed stadium for all the matches," added Abidi. Shaik Rafik, the co-ordinator of the Dulsco hockey tournaments in UAE, said: "The Asia Cup will result in more people taking up hockey. There will be an increase in the number of clubs and thereby the game will gain its lost popularity here again." Eusebio Coelho, the organiser of Lusitanian tournaments said: "Children will get to watch Asia Cup and more schools will take up hockey. This will in turn produce talented players." Shanavas Naduvathuvalapil, the captain of Lacnor hockey team, said: "An international tournament of this stature was badly needed here. This Asia Cup will provide the motivation for not only nationals but also expatriates to play the game.