5/3/2017 8:28:20 AM

NEW HORIZONS

NEW HORIZONS

WHILE indoor hockey has found success in Qatar, India and Pakistan — two of the traditional powerhouses in the regular format who have a combined tally of 11 Olympic gold medals — are yet to take the shorter version seriously.

Both subcontinent teams have always stayed away from indoor competitions, but the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) is keen to spread the format in those two countries and South Korea.

“We contacted India, Pakistan and South Korea. We encouraged them to compete in the Doha event, but due to their prior commitments and congested calendars, they couldn’t come this year. I’m confident India and Pakistan will take part in future,” said AHF CEO Tayyab Ikram in an exclusive e-mail interview with Doha Stadium Plus.

As for Qatar, the format has gained popularity after the outdoor game came to a standstill following the demolition of Al Rayyan Stadium in 2014 for renovation.

A bronze medal at last week’s Indoor Asia Cup in Doha was a commendable achievement given the fact hockey is relatively a new sport in Qatar.

“We want to become a leading side in the region. We’ll try to make it a top sport,” said Qatar Rugby, Hockey and Cricket Federation President Yousef Jeham Al Kuwari.

Oman are also trying to make their mark
in indoor version.

“In some nations, a lack of full-size hockey turfs makes it difficult for the outdoor version to flourish. The indoor and small-sided versions can be easy to start with and can act as foundations for the sport to grow,” said Ikram.

“Promoting the indoor game and other small-sided versions, such as the FIH’s Hockey5s, is an important part of our development programme,” added the official from Macau.

The international hockey federation launched the Indoor World Cup in Leipzig, Germany, in 2003 and since then the concept has become widely popular in Europe.

The AHF started the Asian men’s competition in Ipoh, Malaysia, in 2008 while the women’s event was added the following year at the same venue.

“We want India and Pakistan to participate in the Asian tournament. That’s good for the competition and sport. We want Asia to be No.1 in the world,” said Iran team manager Hadi Shariati. 

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