LAHORE - Star-studded World hockey XI will be touring Pakistan from January 18 to 21 to play two-match series against Pakistan senior team.

This was stated by Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) president Brig (r) Khalid Sajjad Khokhar, while addressing a press conference along with PHF secretary Shahbaz Ahmed Senior and Transmedia head Rao Umar Hashim here on Tuesday at National Hockey Stadium.

Brig Khokhar said that the World XI will play one match each at Karachi and Lahore during its four-day trip. He said the foreign team was scheduled to visit Pakistan from January 10 and the tour has been put forward for eight days to ensure the availability of the players. “The foreign team, which is a blend of world’s renowned hockey players, will be arriving Karachi and will play its first match at Abdul Sattar Edhi Stadium on January 19,” he said.

He said the team will play its second match on January 21 at Lahore. “Karachi’s match will be played under lights and the match at Lahore will be a day affair,” he added.

The PHF chief said a special function of nomination of world’s former top notch players for the ‘Hall of Fame’ will be held at Karachi and a number of foreign and home players will be honoured with their induction in the ‘Hall of Fame’.

“The prime objective of induction of players in ‘hall of fame’ is to develop a new culture in Pakistan hockey and to give recognition to those foreign and home players, who excelled in the game at the highest level,” he said adding, “it will be big step forward to motivate the youth to take up hockey as a sport and to revive the game in Pakistan,” said Khokhar.

The PHF president said tour of World XI will portray a soft image of Pakistan, sending a positive message to the world that the country is a safe place for staging elite sport events.

To a query, Khokhar said the World XI will be comprising players from Australia, Germany, Holland, Belgium and Spain. He said the tour of World XI will be a way forward to bring back international hockey to Pakistan and to hold the Pakistan Hockey League (PHL) in April next year in a befitting manner.

“With the tour of World XI, we will be enhancing our organisational capabilities and allied aspects in order to host the PHL in a professional way.  The World XI will be comprising 15 to 16 players. Pakistan’s former hockey captain Sohail Abbas will also be part of the World XI,” he added.

“The government has issued NOC for hosting the World XI and the PHL and we will be generating necessary funds from the sponsors for holding both the events in a trend setting way,” said Khokhar.

Rao Umar Hashim of Transmedia said that hockey is a dying sport in Pakistan, which badly needs the attention of sponsors and business houses. “The World XI tour will infuse a new life in hockey as it has its significance in many ways as it will motivate the youth to play hockey and will help in unearthing new talent and to add to the ability of PHF for holding PHL in a professional.

He said they have come forward to market this event to join hands with PHF for achieving a sole objective of reviving hockey in which Pakistan is struggling both at home and abroad due to poor performance of the team which is at a low ranking of world number 14th,” he added.