I am with the federation now Michel van den Heuvel

Tuesday, 31 January 2012 16:27

Pakistan hockey coach Michel van den Heuvel has backed the country’s hockey federation for imposing an age-restriction ban on players participating in the national championship, terming it one that will help find young blood.

The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has barred players aged over 30 from taking part in national tournaments, a rule that has drawn criticism, especially from the affected individuals as well as several Olympians.

However, Heuvel who arrived in Karachi yesterday to see the players’ performance at the ongoing National Hockey Championship, said the PHF’s step will help in raising Pakistan’s standards.

“This rule gives youngsters a chance to show their skills,” the Dutchman told reporters at the Hockey Club of Pakistan. “I don’t see anything wrong with it because it helps in scouting young talent, which is good for the future.”

Heuvel added he will keep a close watch on the players in the ongoing championship.

“I will also have a close look at Rehan [Butt] whose fate will be decided on the basis of performance and will be assessed by the team management and the selection committee.”

Meanwhile, the coach was not totally disappointed with the show at the eight-team Champions Trophy last month where the team finished a dismal seventh.

“At least we played the Champions Trophy as we failed to qualify for it but it was disappointing to see the team end 2011 on a low.”

Meanwhile, in the ongoing National Hockey Championship, Adeel Hussain’s hat-trick lifted HBL to a 4-2 win over PHF Academy 4-2.

Adeel scored in the second, 45th and 55th minute as HBL maintained their dominance throughout the game. Adeel Ahmed, who scored in the 20th minute, was the other scorer for HBL.

In another match, a brace from Aleem Bilal and a goal from former Pakistan captain Butt helped Wapda to a 3-1 victory over Navy. Bilal was impressive in his penalty-corner conversions, scoring in the 42nd and 55th minute, while Butt made his presence felt with a field goal in the 39th.

The contest between PIA and SSGC ended in a thrilling 2-2 draw.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 31st, 2012

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