MUSCAT: Taking hockey to different parts of the world is one of the main goals of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) to spread and promote the game.
The city of Salalah in the Dhofar Governorate of Oman successfully hosted the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) Men’s and Women’s Hockey5s Asia Cup 2023, which concluded on Saturday.
This was the inaugural edition of the Hockey5s Asia Cup, which also served as the qualifiers for the FIH Hockey5s World Cup 2024, which will be hosted by Oman Hockey Association (OHA) in Muscat in January.
Watching the actions over the past few days in Salalah was Tayyab Ikram, the FIH president in the company of OHA chief Dr Marwan Al Juma.
Ikram will also preside over the draw ceremony of the inaugural edition of the 2024 FIH Hockey5s World Cup (men and women), which will be hosted in Salalah on Sunday evening.
In his exclusive remarks to Times of Oman, Ikram said: “The first edition of the Hockey5s Asia Cup for men and women in Salalah was an outstanding success. I am impressed by the efforts of the Oman Hockey Association (OHA) officials and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth (MCSY) of Oman that ensured a smooth tournament. The organisation of the men’s and women’s tournament was flawless and all the participating teams were happy with the arrangements. Oman deserves a big round of applause for hosting the maiden tournament.”
Ikram added: “This has been a fantastic event and the Asian athletes have shown impressive skills and talent in this fast-paced and exciting format of the game. Salalah with its pleasant weather and picturesque setting provided a great backdrop to the tournament.
“I have to complement Oman Hockey Association officials for organising it so nicely. The tournament was a wonderful platform for athletes to showcase their talent and I congratulate the teams that have qualified for the World Cup to be held in Muscat in January.
“I am looking forward to a great World Cup and I am confident Oman will deliver a memorable inaugural FIH Hockey5s World Cup.”
The Asia Cup also served as a qualifier for the FIH Hockey 5s World Cup, scheduled to be held in Muscat in January 2024. India, Pakistan and Malaysia booked their spots from Asia with Oman already confirmed as a host nation. Indian women had earlier won the women’s title last week.
Ikram was delighted at the large turnout that turned up in Salalah for watching the matches and said: “To watch thousands of spectators enjoying the India-Pakistan match was very encouraging. The exciting Hockey5s format has been warmly welcomed. Salalah didn’t have international hockey in the past, but the efforts put in by Oman hockey bosses to spread the game is praiseworthy.
Oman in Pool B
Elsewhere, away from hockey5s format, Oman men’s hockey team, which qualified for the 19th Asian Games Hangzhou 2022 in China, have been drawn in Pool B at event, which will be held from September 24-October 7.
According to the draw revealed on Friday, Oman have been clubbed with former champions South Korea, fancied Malaysia, China, Thailand and Indonesia.
Pool A comprise heavyweights India, Pakistan, Japan, Bangladesh, Singapore and Uzbekistan.
Oman will begin their campaign on September 24 against China and then meet Malaysia (Sept 26), Thailand (Sept 28), Indonesia (Sept 30) and South Korea (October 2).