Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif will inaugurate the newly-constructed Hockey Stadium at Johar Town today (Thursday) while an exhibition hockey match will be played between Pakistan Whites and Greens to mark the formal opening of the venue.
Addressing a press conference here at the National Hockey Stadium, Deputy Speaker and Punjab Youth Festival chief organiser Rana Mashhood Ahmed Khan said that last year when several venues and grounds were cleaned to prevent the dengue attack, the Punjab government and Sports Board Punjab identified around 4,500 grounds in the province and similarly several places were also spotted in the city.
Director General Sports and Youth Affairs Usman Anwar and chairman managing committee of new hockey stadium Olympian Akhtar Rasool were also present on the occasion. The committee also comprises DG Sports and DG LDA. “It was the vision of Shahbaz Sharif to see the sports facilities develop in the province and as part of the plan, a state of art stadium has been established at Johar Town,” Rana Mashood said.
He said Akhtar Rasool had been appointed as head of the managing committee of the stadium where the camp training of the national hockey team for Champions Trophy is also going to be conducted after its inauguration,” he stated. “We have set a benchmark by developing grounds, holding sports and youth activities and now preparation are underway to conduct the Punjab International Sports Festival from November 7,” he added.
“Around 41 countries will be taking part in the international festival and it is going to be the biggest sporting event of the country and will also be participated by the Deputy CM of Indian Punjab,” he said.
Rana Mashhood said the visit of the foreign teams to Pakistan was a turning point and it would bring a lot positive changes and send a soft image of the country to the entire world that Pakistan is a safe country. He said a committee had been formed which would give recommendation for its name as Mian M Sharif Hockey Stadium is one of the names proposed for the venue.
Rana Mashhood stressed the need of inviting foreign teams to play in Pakistan and said the Punjab government was ready to provide all the possible support in holding the international cricket matches in the country. “If Pakistan Cricket Board is serious in holding the international event in the province, then we are ready to provide them each and every facility they require.”
“We have sent summary to PCB regarding holding of Punjab Premier League Cricket in the province but we have not get any response from the board which shows they are not interesting in holding cricket events under the banner of Sports Board Punjab,” he added.
Speaking on the occasion, Akhtar Rasool, on behalf of all the hockey players, officials and lovers, thanked Punjab CM for taking special interest in developing a new hockey venue, which has all the major facilities a sports venue requires.
Among the guests, apart from government and other officials, around 13 Olympians will also grace the occasion.