As part of their plan to build a solid national team for the proposed high-profile international championship taking place in Dubai later this year, the UAE Hockey Federation (UAEHF) organised a youth Development tournament at the Shabab Al Ahli Club in Dubai. The UAE Hockey Federation is planning to host an international tournament involving top European teams as well as arch-rivals India and Pakistan later this year, a few weeks into one of the most spectacular events this country has hosted: Expo 2020 Dubai.
And to get UAE players in shape ahead of the mega-event, UAEHF organised a tournament that attracted three teams featuring international players – Field Hockey Academy Dubai, Federation Youth Red and Youth Green. Both Federation Youth Red and Youth Green teams are composed of UAE players and were fielded by the UAEHF.
The Mohammed Atiq-led Federation Youth Red emerged winners after defeating Federation Youth Green 2-1 on penalties for the crown. William Rhys Roberts, who plays for a Scottish club, captained Federation Green. Prizes were given away by Ismail Ali Al Banna, President UAE Hockey Federation, along with Atiq Juma, General Secretary, and Abdullah Murad, General Manager of BB Sports Dubai.
Skipper Mohammed Atiq received the trophy from Ismail Ali Al Banna in presence of Atiq Juma. Rahul Rajendran of the Federation Green team was adjudged Best Player of the tournament, while the best Emirati player award went to Ahmed Majid of the winning team. The matches were supervised by professional umpires Abid Naqi from Pakistan, and UAE-based umpires Farooq Hikmat and Safdar Cheema.
Speaking to Gulf Today, Banna said: “We are doing our best to create a perfect national team. We are getting a lot of support from other people as well and taking advice from coaches of different UAE-based academies, to gain from their experiences. Having a solid national team capable of competing on the international stage is our target for the future of hockey”.
The UAE Hockey Federation is also in talks with Shabab Al Ahli and Dubai Municipality to get a ground for the national players.
“I wish one day we will have our own playground so that we can encourage more and more young boys to come and train,” Banna said.
Juma added: “Having missed match practice for much of last year, we have to cash in on the opportunities we get. It is good for us that we are tested against a tough opponent like Field Hockey Academy.
“We are working hard in our training camps and tried our best to recreate the intensity of a high-stakes international match.”
Raza Abidi, the chief coordinator of the UAE Hockey Federation, thanked the Asian Hockey Federation and the International Hockey Federation for their support of the tournament.