‘Reaching COAS event final is big achievement’

KARACHI: Malir Youth Hockey Club head coach Irshad Haider has said that his team’s reaching the final of the National Inter Club Chief of Army Staff (COAS) event was a sign of the revival of the game in Karachi.

Talking to ‘The News’, he said it was after 30 years that a team from Karachi had reached the final of event. “All our players are aged 20 to 21. They are all young and energetic,” he said. “All our players are residents of district Malir; not a single player outside the district. On the other hand Rana Zaheer Academy comprised the best players of Punjab,” he added.

He also said that some players of Rana Zaheer Academy, which won the final, had played for Pakistan. “Playing against such a big team in the COAS final is a great achievement for Malir Hockey Club,” Irshad said.

He said that Abdullah Sheikh of Malir Youth Club was declared the best goal keeper of the tournament. “Two of our players were declared man of the match in the tournament; penalty corner specialist Ali Iqbal Afridi scored 4 goals; forward Haris Nafees netted 5 goals in the tournament,” he added.

Irshad said that Malir Youth Club got Rs2.5 million as the runners up of the event.

He said that no one is taking seriously this significant change in hockey at national level. “But let me tell you this means hockey is not dying in this country as some people might believe. Once again a competitive hockey culture will be revived in the country when Karachi’s hockey plays its due role,” he said.

It was also learnt that Rana Zaheer Acadmey had enjoyed the services of a foreign coach for some time.

Irshad credited the achievement of his team to the strggule of Karachi Hockey Association’s (KHA) leadership. He said that KHA secretary Haider Hussain was behind the revival of hockey in Karachi.

Irshad, who played for HBL, Pakistan Customs, and HBFC, said that Haider appointed him the coach of Malir Youth Club. “I let them play their attacking game,” he added.

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