In what could give hockey in the GCC region a big boost, the Oman Hockey Association (OHA) has decided to bid for the hosting rights for the 2016 Asian Champions Trophy.
The OHA's decision - albeit taken informally as of now - was confirmed by the visiting Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) CEO Tayyib Ikram on Wednesday.
Speaking to Muscat Daily, Ikram said, “The OHA has shown keenness to host the Asian Champions Trophy next year. It is one of the flagship events of the AHF and it features the top six teams from the continent. The AHF is keen to expand the game by hosting such top-class events in new places. It will give a boost to the host nation and to the game as well.”
However, Oman faces stiff competition as a prospective host. “Malaysia, Japan and Bangladesh have shown their interest in bidding for the fourth edition of the tournament,” Ikram said.
“Oman will be the fourth nation to bid and I am waiting for the formal bid application from the OHA.” Redha al Lawati, the OHA's general secretary, confirmed the development to Muscat Daily, informing that 'the board has given the go-ahead and a formal bid will be filed once the Ministry of Sports Affairs okays the proposal'.
“It is one of the best hockey championships in Asia. If we manage to meet success with our bid to host the event, I am sure it will open a new chapter for the sport in the sultanate,” said Lawati. Oman is also set to be formally awarded the hosting rights for the AHF U18 Championship in January, when the Asian body will pick the host nation for the Asian Champions Trophy.
“We are ready to host both the events, if we are handed the responsibility by the AHF,” said Lawati. Ikram said that in case Oman wins the bid, then the Asian Champions Trophy will be held in October and there might be a change in schedule for the U18 AHF Cup. Since its launch in 2011, the Asian Champions Trophy has seen three editions take place.
Defending champion Pakistan has won the crown twice, while India triumphed once. The format features Asia's top six teams competing in a round-robin format. Ikram was speaking at an event to honour S A S Naqvi, former national team hockey coach and veteran sports administrator, with the AHF Lifetime Sports Achievement Award.
The award to the octogenarian hockey coach, who had coached the Indian women's team at the 1978 World Cup in Madrid, Spain, was in recognition of his contribution to the development of hockey in Oman.
Also, former Oman Olympic Committee (OOC) vice-chairman Habib Abdulnabi Macki was also presented with the AHF Lifetime Sports Achievement Award earlier this week.
The national team coach, Oliver Kurtz of Germany, is on his way out with the OHA deciding to terminate his contract on Thursday. Lawati said, “We have a few Omani coaches as our replacement options. Anyway, there is no major tournament coming up in the next six months.”
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