KARACHI: The U14 hockey team of the Habib Public School (HPS) was honoured on Thursday for winning the International series of hockey matches organised by Raja Ashman Shah at AHF-MHC Hockey Academy in IPOH, Malaysia.
The 14-member hockey team along with the vice principal Shahwar Ahmed, sports manager Kumail Abbas and hockey coach Shakir Ali had gone to Kuala Lumpur on August 17.
The team went on to win the series in a penalty shootout and returned to Pakistan on August 25 while their reception was held on September 22.
HPS played five matches against different schools of Malaysia, which included Anderson Excellent School, Anderson High School and Seagate High School.
Coach Ali revealed that the HPS school’s team was the youngest in the tournament. “Our team had the youngest players in the tournament while other teams had players ranging from 16 to 18,” said Ali. “Even then our team was able to level the series after which the organising committee arranged a penalty shootout to decide the winner of the tournament, which we won by 3-2 to bring the trophy home.”
Ali also revealed that the team was accommodated in the hostel of the Azlan Shah Stadium, which increased the confidence of the youngsters. “The players were accommodated in the sports hostels of the Azlan Shah Stadium, where the international team of Pakistan is facilitated every year for Azlan Shah Tournament,” he said. “This had increased their confidence and made them feel like a star all thanks to the organisers.”
He also recalled that HPS has been a hub of producing international players in the golden days of Pakistan hockey. “As our national team participated less in the international matches and failed to win the tournaments that they once ruled, the interest of the students decreased,” he explained.
“Following the low interest of the student, the HPS management still retains interest in the national game, and thus decided to help the new Pakistan Hockey Federation management in reviving the sport’s lost glory by working on grass root level as HPS has around 2000 students enrolled.
“We held trials and started coaching again with one period of an hour, four days a week to give hockey training along with swimming and we gradually able to produce a fair team. We’re happy that they ended up winning the tournament on their first international trip sponsored by ex-habibians in Tapal and California Pizza.”
Ali further added that the reception of the winners had been postponed due to the examinations. “This ceremony and especially the trophy has increased the interest of the students in this game and now we have around 55 students training for hockey with age group from U10 to U18,” he added.
Meanwhile, Ipoh’s Mayor Dato Rahim along with Tourism Officer Hanim also facilitated the students by arranging a trip to Taiping Zoo, Lost world of Tampun and Safari followed by a boat trip up to the point where they could feed the sea eagles.