Hockey to resume with five-a-side domestic tournament in Pakistan in August

The national hockey championship will also be held in September-October at different venues in a bio-secure environment, PHF secretary Asif Bajwa said.

Hockey stick

Hockey has remained suspended like all other sporting events in Pakistan, since March, due to the deadly coronavirus.   -  Getty Images / Representative Photo

Suspended since March due to the COVID-19 outbreak, hockey is set to resume in Pakistan in August with a five-a-side domestic tournament.

After the domestic competition, the national championship in September-October will also be held at different venues in a bio-secure environment, the nation's Hockey Federation secretary Asif Bajwa told reporters. “Finally, we are set to resume hockey activities from August but in an environment where all SOPs and protocols of COVID-19 will be followed to keep the players, officials and match officials safe,” he said.

Bajwa himself had to go into quarantine in Lahore after contracting the virus, forcing the PHF office to remain shut for four months.

He also said the federation has decided to pay 30 players a one-time allowance of 30,000 rupees each to help them cope up with the prevalent economic crisis.

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“Although the PHF is struggling financially, the president felt in these difficult times we needed to do something for the players,” he said.

Bajwa’s announcement to resume hockey activities came just a few days after the FIH (International Hockey Federation) announced international matches would restart in September with some matches of the Pro-League in Europe.

Bajwa added youth hockey was the future of the game and the five-a-side version would be a game-changer. The federation has decided to take it very seriously to introduce it at the school level too.

He said the FIH also has a plan to host a five-a-side World Cup and PHF has already started preparations for raising a strong team for this new format of the game. A number of Pakistani coaches attended an online course conducted by the FIH this month as well.

“The five-a-side tournament would provide great entertaining hockey like T20 cricket and hopefully it would set a new direction for the game of hockey,” said Bajwa.

Pakistan is also planning to send its junior team to the Asia Junior Cup to be held in Lucknow early next year.

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