Qatar News Agency,
Doha, 11 August –
Qatar Hockey Federation (QHF) is planning to organise here an international league called Arabian Dream League featuring top teams from the world, a senior official said Sunday.
Speaking to Qatar News Agency (QNA) QHF Secretary General Mohamed Abdul-Nazer said, “We have plans to organise the Arabian Dream League, similar to premier leagues are that conducted by countries that are members the International Hockey Federation (IHF).”
The high-skill game of hockey will come out of the shadows and shine in the floodlights, if we succeed in organising such a league besides major national and regional tournaments in Qatar, he said.
“If our dream turns into reality, such tournaments will spur the development of hockey in Qatar as well as the region and, I’m optimistic that many Qatari youth will excel in this sport in the future,” said Abdul-Nazer.
The nascent QHF operates under the aegis of Qatar Olympic Committee. It was approved and a budget for the proposed hockey stadium was passed in 2009 by QOC Secretary General Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, he said.
Appreciating HE Sheikh Saoud for his interest and support to develop field hockey in Qatar, Abdul-Nazer, “The honourable QOC Secretary General was surprised at the huge turnout of spectators at one of the international matches which he witnessed. We have good spectator support and top sports infrastructure so there is immense potential for hockey in Qatar, in fact the construction plans and drawings for the proposed 5,000-seater international hockey stadium are ready.”
Talking about future plans for hockey in Qatar, QHF President Hassan Al Qadi said, “We want Qatar to be a hub for field hockey in the Arab sports world.
“There is a lot of potential in Qatar. We are a sport-loving country. We have successfully held so many major international tournaments. We have the best sports infrastructure. We are a small country, but with a big heart for sports.”
While the football, tennis, equestrianism, golf and motorsports enjoy the limelight in Qatar, the QHF has been quietly organising tournaments in Qatar featuring international teams at its hockey stadium in Rayyan over the last few years.
Starting with the Friendship Hockey Series in 2008, featuring Air India and Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), the two top teams from traditional hockey giants India and Pakistan, the QHF then hosted an encounter between Pakistan and Holland in 2009.
The QHF had a busy schedule in 2012, first with Qatar national team’s two matches against Sudan, followed by the Gulf Cup that was won by Oman and the World Hockey League involving hosts Oman, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Azerbaijan and hosts Qatar who finished a creditable second, losing the final to Azerbaijan, ranked 39th by IHF.
Holland is currently ranked number three in IHF’s men’s national team rankings while eight-time Olympics champions India ranks 11th, three places below Pakistan. Germany is the current number one team in the world.
Only two teams from the Middle East figure in this elite ranking – Egypt, ranked number 24 and the Sultanate of Oman, ranked 36th.
QHF’s major programme later this winter, from November 18 to 22, is the Doha Hockey Friendship Festival featuring top teams from Pakistan, India, Malaysia and Qatar. PIA, Air-India, Johor Bahru from Malaysia and hosts Qatar. Eight matches in four days will be played at the Rayyan hockey stadium, said Abdul-Nazer. (QNA)
The following websites republished my report on August 12 and 13, 2013.
(Sportskeeda’s Nishit Nakar picked up QNA report that Gulf Times newspaper published on August 12, 2013.)