By ND Prashant/Doha
In the backdrop of the successful hosting of the Asian Champions Trophy, there is plenty more for hockey fans in Qatar to celebrate at the beginning of the New Year. Qatar Hockey Federation (QHF) will soon have a new home in the Industrial Area.
A state-of-the-art stadium with a seating capacity of 5,000 has been planned by the Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC), in close proximity to the cricket stadium.
There was uncertainty surrounding the fate of QHF ever since Qatar won the bid to host the 2022 football World Cup. The hockey stadium which was earlier planned around the exiting turf at the Al Rayyan Stadium was put on hold after the bid was announced.
“Yes, the stadium should be ready by 2013-2014 and QR50 million have been allocated by the QOC. Since the Al Rayyan Stadium will undergo extension for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, we have been allocated a plot at the industrial area,” said QHF general secretary Abdul Nazer.
Local consultant firm EHAF has be appointed for the project and the blueprints of the new stadium is same as the one proposed for the Al Rayyan Stadium.
“We have not changed anything in the plan that was designed earlier. Apart from the main turf there will also be two practice turfs around the stadium. There will be seating on three sides of the stadium and one side has been kept open where makeshift stands can be erected in case need arises.
“There will also be a basement floor for players and officials and separate change rooms for local teams during local events and separate for international teams,” revealed Nazer.
Seeing the overwhelming success of the Asian Champions trophy, QHF has also expressed their willingness to host a U-21 three-match Test series between India and Pakistan.
“We have told representatives from India and Pakistan that we are more than willing to host both nations for a U-21 Test series. We have also put forward a proposal to QOC to organise a club tournament comprising of teams like PIA, Air-India, Air Asia and Qatar. With these teams, we will not have to bear the travel costs; only accommodation and organisation of the tournament we have to taken care,” notified Nazer.
Other tournaments in the pipeline are the West Asian Tournament and Gulf Cup. “West Asian Tournament will comprise of national teams from Oman, UAE, Qatar and Iran. UAE will be able to field a national side by 2014. We are also aiming to organise the Gulf Cup for clubs from Qatar, Kuwait and Oman this year,” says Nazer.
The QHF is also planning a league on the lines of Hockey India league called Arab Stars League. “International Hockey Federation CEO Kelly Fairweather was here in Doha during the ‘Doha Goals’ and we discussed with him about it. We are looking at having two sponsored teams and two franchise teams. In each team, 1/3 of players will comprise stars from around the world, another 1/3 would be U-23 players and remaining would be local players,” added Nazer.
The Federation will also be looking at providing job opportunities for the national players and are working out ways to increase their stipend.
“Yes, only few of the boys are employed and we are paying just a small stipend to the players. Providing them with some employment is also on our agenda.
“We didn’t even know that QOC has good incentives for players on the basis of how they fare at international tournaments. We got to know about it only recently. We understand that there is a need to give them better incentives. All I can say, we are trying our best.”
QHF had appointed local-based company QSports to promote the Asian Champions Trophy but despite promising so much, they failed to deliver and Nazer rated it as a ‘missed opportunity’. “Seeing huge crowds at the stadium, we would say we could have promoted the event better. We got them (QSports) on board but they couldn’t market it well.
“Al-Kass channel also promised they would telecast few matches live but that didn’t happen. The tournament would have certainly given us a good platform if the matches were shown across Asia. Unfortunately, nothing can be done now; these are some of the grey areas we have to work on.”
1) State of art hockey stadium
2) U-21 Test series between India and Pakistan
3) Gulf Cup comprising of clubs teams from Qatar, Oman and Kuwait
4) West Asia Cup in 2014 between Oman, UAE, Qatar and Iran
5) Tournament comprising of PIA, Air-India, Air Asia and Qatar
6) Arab Stars League on the lines of Hockey Indian under the auspices of FIH
7) Initiatives for employment and increase in stipend for players of