Qatar planning Arabian Dream League in hockey
August 12 2013 01:28 AM
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The Qatar Hockey Federation (QHF) is planning an international league featuring the world’s top club teams next year, a senior official said yesterday.

QHF secretary general Mohamed Abdul Nazer said the Arabian Dream League would be modelled on the leagues that are played in Europe and Asia.

“We have plans to organise the Arabian Dream League, similar to premier leagues are that conducted by countries that are members of the International Hockey Federation (IHF),” Abdul Nazer said.

He said the sport would come out of the shadows and “shine in the floodlights” if the plan succeeded.

“If our dream turns into reality, such tournaments will spur the development of hockey in Qatar as well as the region, and I’m optimistic that many Qatari youth will excel in the sport,” added Abdul Nazer.

A Dutch group is collaborating with Qatar on the project.

The QHF operates under the aegis of Qatar Olympic Committee. A budget for the proposed hockey stadium was passed in 2009 by QOC secretary-general HE Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, he said.

Appreciating  Sheikh Saoud for his interest and support to develop field hockey in Qatar, Abdul Nazer added: “The QOC secretary general was surprised at the huge turnout of spectators at one of the international matches which he witnessed. We have good spectator support and top sports infrastructure so there is immense potential for hockey in Qatar. In fact the construction plans and drawings for the proposed 5,000-seater international hockey stadium are
ready.”

A hockey ground adjoining the Al Rayyan Football Club is being used to play the game now, but the new stadium will be built at another venue because the Al Rayyan stadium is set for expansion for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Talking about the QHF’s  plans, its president Hassan al-Qadi said: “We want Qatar to be a hub for field hockey in the Arab world.

“There is a lot of potential in Qatar. We are a sports-loving country. We have successfully held so many major international tournaments. We have the best sports infrastructure. We are a small country,
but with a big heart for sports.”  

While football, tennis, equestrianism, golf and motorsports enjoy the limelight in Qatar, the QHF has been quietly organising tournaments featuring international teams at its hockey stadium in Rayyan over the last few years.

Starting with the Friendship Hockey Series in 2008, featuring Air India and Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), the QHF also hosted an encounter between Pakistan and Holland in 2009.

The QHF had a busy schedule in 2012 with the Qatar national team playing two Test matches against Sudan, followed by the Gulf Cup which was won by Oman. The World Hockey League involving Oman, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Azerbaijan and hosts Qatar was also held in which Qatar finished a creditable second behind Azerbaijan.

The QHF will host the first West Asian Championship in early November this year featuring Iran, the UAE, Oman and Qatar.

It will be followed by the Doha Hockey Friendship Festival from November 18 to 22. The tournament will involve top teams from Pakistan, India, Malaysia and Qatar such as PIA, Air India and Johor Bahru

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