Hockey to resume in Pakistan from August with five-a-side domestic tournament
In addition to the five-a-side tournament to restart hockey in the country, the Pakistan Hockey Federation has also decided to grant a one-time bonus to 30 players to cope with the COVID-19 crisis.
Suspended since March due to the COVID-19 outbreak, hockey activities are set to resume in Pakistan from next month with a five-a-side domestic tournament.
The country's Hockey Federation (PHF) has also decided to give one-time allowance to 30 players to cope up with the current health crisis.
After the five-a-side tournament, the national hockey championship in September-October will also be held at different venues in a proper bio-secure environment in the wake of the pandemic, the PHF said.
PHF secretary Asif Bajwa told reporters that hockey activities have remained suspended like all other sporting events in Pakistan since March due to the deadly virus.
"But finally we are set to resume hockey activities from August but in an environment where all SOPs and protocols of the 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.
Bajwa also said that the federation had decided to pay 30 players — seniors and juniors — a one-time COVID allowance of 30,000 PKR each to help them cope up with the current economic crunch.
"Although the PHF is struggling financially, the president felt that 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 intentional hockey would restart in September with some matches of the Pro-League in Europe.
Bajwa said that youth hockey was the future of the game and the five-a-side version would be a game-changer and 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.
He said in this regard a good number of Pakistani coaches attended an online course conducted by the FIH this month.
"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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