International hockey returned to Pakistan for the first time in a decade when a World Eleven side defeated the national junior team 5-1 in an exhibition match here.
The visiting team was made up of recently retired players from Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Australia and Argentina.
“The main thing is that we have finally managed to make this World Eleven tour a reality and now we can approach sponsors and corporates to support the game,” Pakistan Hockey Federation President Khalid Khokar said.
No international hockey match has been held in Pakistan since 2008 with teams refusing to tour the country due to security concerns.
Pakistan has also fallen behind in world rankings in recent times, dealing a big blow to the popularity of the sport, although it is the national sport.
Holland’s legendary penalty corner strikers, Paul Litjens and Jan Floris Bovelander were clearly the most popular players in the visiting side as people cheered them and thronged them for autographs and selfies at the heavily secured stadium.
The World Eleven left for Lahore this morning and will play their second match on Sunday.
The PHF had fielded a young side from the trials held this week and Khokar explained the purpose was not to win the match but to ensure the tour went off smoothly.
Adeel Latif scored for Pakistan in the fifth minute and the home side retained the lead till half time but the visitors showed their class in the last 15 minutes, slamming in five goals.
Dutch player Roderick Weusthof scored two goals while Australian Grant Schubert and Philip Meulenbroek — also from Holland — got the other goals.
Spain’s David Alegre completed the goals tally in the 48th minute to the cheers of a seizable crowd.