In the month of November, British Army Women Hockey Team visited Pakistan and played three matches each, against teams of Pakistan Army, WAPDA and Pakistan Railways, and a fourth against the combined team of Pakistan Army and Pakistan Railways at the Army Stadium, Rawalpindi.
The guest team won their first match against Pakistan Army, 4-0. The experienced team went up against WAPDA on the following day and lost, 0-1. According to Lt Col Paula Nicholas, “WAPDA Women’s Hockey Team gave us a tough time.
They passed the ball very quickly which made it difficult for us to catch them.” The third match against Pakistan Railways was also won by the British team, 3-1. The final match of the tour was held on November 23, between the guest team and the combined team of Pakistan Army and Railways, after a coaching session by the British of the of the Pakistani players. This match was also won by the British team, 7-1.
Lt Col Paula Nicholas, praised the combined Army and Railways hockey team and commended their efforts, saying, “The team played exceptionally well. They remembered their coaching sessions and implemented all their learning into the game. They could not win the match but they definitely put up a good fight.”
The youngest team member Shariqa, 15, scored the only goal from the Pakistani side. She expressed her views after the match: “The tournament was a learning experience like no other. The team played as a unit and the cherry on top was the opportunity to learn from the experienced British Army Women Hockey Team, not only playing against them.”
The British team hopes that such tournaments will be arranged in future as well because they believe that it provides opportunities for Pakistani girls to learn on the field. Major Emily Lawson said, “After coming to Pakistan and interacting with Pakistani hockey team I have seen that Pakistan is packed with talented players who are ambitious and dedicated to the sport. I do hope for these girls to excel and make their nation proud.”
Capt Lizzy Verge said, “Our trip to Pakistan has been extremely important for diplomatic relations between the UK and Pakistan, purely because forming relations both in sports and in military context provided a great platform for both male and female participants and spectators. It helped us to understand each other’s culture, which formed a partnership for the future. Our trip to Pakistan has been an absolutely fantastic experience.”
Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa not only came to watch the last match but also appreciated the teams for their performance and sportsmanship.
Despite the results, this tour proved to be very successful not only for the teams playing but for Pakistan as a whole as it is indicative of the revival of sports activities in Pakistan. Pakistan is a safe country for all international sports events and it is heartening that foreign teams and players are coming here to play. HH
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