April 23 - The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has signed a three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with its Afghanistan counterpart, the AHF, on what AHF secretary Mirwais Bahawi hailed as a "historic day" for hockey in the nation.
Pakistan is the first country to lend its support to the AHF and the partnership will see the national governing body for the sport provide technical assistance in the restructuring and reformation of the game in Afghanistan.
The PHF will also donate 100 hockey sticks and 100 balls to the AHF.
"It is a historic day in the history of Afghan hockey that the PHF will be providing support to reorganise the game in our war-torn country," Bahawi said.
Hockey is not new to the country, which participated in the sport at the Berlin 1936, London 1948 and Melbourne 1956 Olympics, but Bahawi went on to explain that the aim is now to "make it a game of masses in Afghanistan".
He also said he was confident Afghan hockey would be back on the right track in the next five to six years thanks to the cooperation of the PHF.
"The passion for hockey is ever-growing and youth is taking keen interest to take up hockey as a sport and we have around 500 to 600 hockey playing players," he said.
"We are going through a tough time in the prevailing circumstances and Pakistan is the first country to support the cause of Afghan hockey for which we are very thankful to them.
"Pakistan has a glorious past in the game and its guidance to help reorganise the game will play a paramount role in the overall development of the game in Afghanistan."
The agreement will also see three Afghan teams visiting Pakistan each year.
"We will be inviting their national team and two junior teams to undergo two-week training and activities every year in Pakistan," PHF secretary Asif Bajwa said.
He added that the MoU formed part of the nation's development plans in line with the International Hockey Federation (FIH).
"Our hockey academies have become a role model in hockey playing countries and we will be introducing the same system in Afghanistan to organise the game on scientific lines," Bajwa concluded.
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