Big plans for Oman hockey revival Featured

Thursday, 20 March 2014 13:19

There is a sense of urgency and enthusiasm as far as Oman hockey is concerned.

There has been a buzz in the hockey circles since last week's visit of Tayyab Ikram, Director of Coaching and Secretary of High Performance at International Hockey Federation (FIH) and things are pointing in the right direction.

For certain Oman hockey national teams will have a busy year ahead and the Oman Hockey Association (OHA) is also happy that the nation is gaining points for all participations abroad and is currently ranked 23rd in the world by the FIH, and based on that they are ranked sixth in Asia.

But that apparently is not reflecting on the domestic tournaments where, for some time now, we have been witnessing lesser number of clubs playing the game. 

The last edition of Oman's premier tournament, His Majesty's Cup, saw only eight clubs playing, really a poor record considering the game's immense popularity during the yesteryears.

However, Mohammed Ridha Taqi Al Lawati, the OHA general secretary, feels that this is just a bad phase and things will turn around rather quickly.

"We at the OHA have big plans to revive the game and take it to the highest level. The first plan is to develop 16 training centres spread across various regions in Oman," Ridha told  Times Sport.

 "These long term plans to develop players in different age groups will yield success in the coming years."

The OHA is on the right path, but Ridha Taqi minced no words in criticising the sports clubs for the poor state of hockey in the country.

"If we are finding only six to eight teams playing hockey now, the clubs must take the blame," he said.

"Most of the clubs are turning their backs on the game and the lack of support has led to the dwindling number of teams in the domestic tournaments," he explained. "It is for the clubs to encourage the players who play hockey."

When it was pointed out that most of the clubs hardly have enough facilities for hockey, Ridha refuted the claim, saying: "We at the OHA are always ready to help them and to provide them with practice facilities at a point nearest to them. But it is for the club administrations to show some interest."

Asian Games qualifiers
Meanwhile, Ridha said: "We will continue to be positive and our next focus will be the qualifying tournament for the 2014 Asian Games."

A recent report stated that the qualifiers have been reduced to an eight-nation meet after Afghanistan and Thailand pulled out. This has resulted in one of the groups being reduced to a three-team affair — Bangladesh, Singapore and Hong Kong. The other group features Oman along with Sri Lanka, Chinese Taipei, Qatar and Iran.

The qualifiers are scheduled to take place in Dhaka from March 15 to 23 and the six top teams are supposed to advance to the Asian Games to be held in September in Incheon, South Korea.

"Our aim is to qualify for the Games and we will work hard towards achieving that goal," said Ridha.  To recall, Oman had finished seventh in the 2010 Asian Games in Doha.

"A good performance in the qualifiers will boost our preparation for the World Hockey League (WHL), which we are going to host," said Ridha, who, however, did not confirm when the first round of the WHL will be held.

Ridha, however, said there could be nine teams playing in the WHL, though only Azerbaijan, Iran, Oman, Qatar, Turkey and the UAE have confirmed so far.

New hockey pitch
Meanwhile, FIH official Tayyab Ikram, responding to queries from Times Sport, said having new facilities for hockey in Oman is a good idea, but "we have not committed to offer full support. I do not think that is that simple and FIH cannot do that alone." Asked about the existing facility at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex, Ikram said: "It is good enough for the World League, but as for the possibility of hosting higher-ranked events, there should be two pitches and it is absolutely necessary."

Tayyab added that his meeting with the Oman Olympic Committee chairman, Sheikh Khalid Zubair, was excellent and fruitful. 

"Mainly, we agreed that we can use the Olympic committee's support for accessing the International Olympic Committee's help for development. He was very supportive when it came to assisting hockey and I really appreciate his response to my requests." 

Tayyab signed off by saying that a lot needs to be done for Oman hockey. "The whole purpose of my visit was to take Oman hockey to the next step and I agree that a lot needs to be done."

Rate this item
(0 votes)
Read 593 times

Upcoming Hockey Events

No events

Our Hockey Network