Hockey Star Sohail Abbas on Fund-Raising Mission in Rotterdam

Khalid Hussain
Publication Date: 
Tue, 2005-10-25 03:00

KARACHI, 25 October 2005 — Sohail Abbas may have fallen from grace in Pakistan for his decision to retire from international hockey but the drag flick ace has proved he loves his country as much as any other Pakistani by initiating a major fund-raising campaign in Holland for the victims of the Oct. 8 earthquake.

Sohail told Arab News from Rotterdam that he is at the forefront of a fund-raising effort through an exhibition match in Holland to be held tomorrow.

The Karachi-born player, who holds the world record of highest number of goals scored in international hockey, talked with Dutch hockey officials and several international stars presently featuring in league competitions in Holland about the possibility of a charity match between the Holland national team and a sort of a World XI constituting top players from Australia, Pakistan, India and Germany. The match was aimed at collecting funds for the Pakistani earthquake victims.

The idea got an encouraging response from all the parties and soon it was decided that the exhibition match would be played tomorrow in Rotterdam.

According to Sohail, the biggest supporters of his initiative were players from Indian especially Dilip Tirkey and Gagan Ajeet Singh.

Sohail and other people involved in the Dutch fund-raising campaign are targeting to gather around 200,000 euros (approx. Rs.15 million) from the exercise.

The campaign has the support of the Rotterdam Club as well as the city administration, which has already donated 25,000 euros for the earthquake victims.

The match itself promises to be an exciting affair as it will involve some of the world’s best hockey players who will be seen in action together for the first time.

The Dutch team will comprise of several top players and will take on a star-studded squad that would include Sohail Abbas, Indian skipper Dilip Tirkey, mercurial striker Gagan Ajit, former Pakistan captain Waseem Ahmed, Australia’s World Player of the Year Jamie Dwyer, Grant Scubert, Stephen Veen, former Aussie skipper Troy Elder among others.

The people behind the motive are hoping to collect a substantial amount through gate money as well as in-stadium advertising and television rights.

Interestingly, quite recently a Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) official had given a very different picture regarding the exhibition match for the earthquake victims.

The PHF secretary in a statement had said that the Dutch Hockey Association, which has very friendly relations with the PHF, was behind the organizing of the event. The official was even quoted as saying that the funds raised through the match would be sent to the PHF so that it can divert it to the relief efforts being carried out in the northern parts of the country, which were devastated by the earthquake.

However, Sohail said that the funds collected through the match in Rotterdam would be sent directly to the affected region through international relief organizations.

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