ISLAMABAD - Pakistan junior hockey team 15-day training camp for the 5th Sultan Johar Hockey Tournament will conclude today (Wednesday) here at the Naseer Bunda Hockey Stadium and it will resume at Army Hockey Stadium, Rawalpindi on September 28.

The players will report on September 27 evening to head coach Tahir Zaman and the camp will restart on September 28 at Army Stadium astroturf. The players, coaches and other technical staff will reside in Army mess or local hotel and the training camp will conclude on October 4. The team will travel to Malaysia where it will play practice match against Argentinean hockey team and most likely two practice matches against Malaysian national junior team before featuring in the main tournament.

Talking to The Nation, head coach Tahir Zaman termed the training at Naseer Bunda Stadium more than satisfactory. “We were told different stories about the poor-state-of-affairs of Naseer Bunda astroturf and were scared of conducting camp here, but let me accept, the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) staff did a commendable job of cleaning the astroturf and making the surface in almost perfect shape. The main playing field is quite good, while some areas need more cleanliness. I am sure the PSB staff under the guidance of its director general Dr Akhtar Nawaz Ganjera will overcome minor issues soon.”

“Now the first phase of training is over and the team remains injury-free during the camp. But now the real test is to prepare the juniors for the mega event in Malaysia. We need more competitive training and better astroturf. The PHF, with the help of Army, has now arranged the camp at Army Hockey Stadium, which is quite better and will help the players a great deal. We will likely to reside in Army messes, or alternatively at hotel,” he added.

Tahir said: “We are very grateful to the PSB for providing us top class facilities and accommodation. Allama Iqbal hostel staff headed by Assistant Director Malik Imtiaz Hussian has taken very good care of all of us. I am personally very grateful to him for such nice care. We couldn’t even expect we would be treated in such a great way.”

Meanwhile, the highly placed sources have confirmed to this scribe that neither Army mess nor hotel was arranged for the players. “It is every possibility that the PHF will request the PSB for accommodation and meal, while the team will continue practice at Army hockey Stadium, as it will be almost impossible for the federation to even think about same facilities, which were being provided to them at the PSB.”

Meanwhile, as part of PHF development plan to groom coaches on modern scientific lines and to improve upon the technical know-how, the PHF is organising the PHF Coaching Education Programme along with the training camp of Pakistan juniors at Army Hockey Stadium, Rawalpindi from September 28 to October 5.

FIH master coach Tahir Zaman will conduct the national coaches’ clinic and will be assisted by Olympian Khawaja M Junaid as chief coordinator and Lt Col (R) Nadeem Ahmad Bhatti as course coordinator.

The coaches, who will report to Tahir Zaman at Army Hockey Stadium on September 28, are Major Asad Zia Malik (Army), M Usman (PIA), M Saqlain (ABL), M Sarwar (ABL), Mudassar Ali Khan (Wapda), Mirza Waheed Baig (Wapda), Babar Abdullah (ABL), M Khalid (PIA), Khawar Javed (NBP). M Ali Khan (Customs), Kamran Ashraf (PIA), Dr Atif Bashir (PIA), M Rasheed (Lahore), Rehan Butt (Wapda), M Kashif Jawad (Port Qasim), M Imran (Army), Junaid Khan Jadoon (Navy) and Kamran Sabir (Quetta).