Hockey pioneer Sultan Azlan Shah dies aged 86

International hockey suffered a big setback today as the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah who is regarded as the 'Father of Malaysian Hockey', passed away here at the age of 86.

Sultan Azlan Shah was known as the 'Father of Malaysian Hockey' for his colossal contribution to the sport for over 41 years -- both as a player and an administrator.

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Sultan Azlan Shah (L). Getty Images

The ruler died at 1.30pm at the National Heart Institute here. His remains will be taken to the palace in Kuala Kangsar tomorrow morning and buried at the royal mausoleum after mid-afternoon prayers.

Sultan Azlan Shah was a staunch lover of sports, especially hockey, and this love for the game inspired him to start the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament in 1983.

The Sultan Azlan Shah Cup began as a biennial event but became an annual event after 1998 and is hosted in the Perak capital of Ipoh.

Sultan Azlan Shah, who started playing hockey in his school days, played for Perak during his heydays before being elected as the Malaysian Hockey Federation (now Malaysian Hockey Confederation) vice-President in 1973.

Under his stewardship, Malaysia hosted two hockey World Cups -- 1975 and 2002 editions. In 1997, Sultan Azlan Shah was elected as the president of the Asian Hockey Federation and he held the post until his demise today.

Sultan Azlan Shah also became the Vice-President of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) in 1992 and stayed on for two terms.

PTI