U.S. Consul General Brian Heath saluted 30 female Access English-language Microscholarship students at his residence. Despite the heat, the 30 hockey players demonstrated their mettle in an exciting sports clinic followed by a hard-fought match. Among those supporting the young athletes was Islahuddin Siddiqui, captain of Pakistan’s 1978 World Champion Hockey team.
“We are celebrating women’s hockey,” said Mr. Heath, “to promote sports as a tool for enhancing people-to-people ties.” Although many Pakistani men play hockey — and Pakistan’s men’s hockey team has won many titles — the game is still growing in popularity among girls. “We want to encourage more children in Karachi to play hockey and other sports to experience the sense of belonging, teamwork and achievement that comes with it,” said Mr. Heath.
“Sports can play a very important role in a young person’s life,” said the U.S. consul general. “We also wanted to recognize the major contribution of volunteers like coaches and those who work with youth as they serve as important role models and mentors in their communities.”
Islahuddin Hockey Academy generously provided training expertise for the field hockey clinics. Besides Islahuddin Siddiqui, other hockey celebrities participating in the clinic included former members of Pakistan’s National Hockey Team and Olympic medalists: Hasan Sardar, Ayaz Mahmood, Sameer Hussain, Safdar Abbas, Qamar Ibrahim, and Kamran Ashraf.
For more information on Access English-language programs, please visit the following web sites: www.yesprograms.org/country/pakistan and www.iearnpk.org/yespk.htm. For more information on U.S. State Department Education and Cultural programs, including sports diplomacy, please visit www.eca.r.state.sbu/Pages/Home.aspx.