LAHORE - Chief Minister Punjab Hamza Shahbaz Sharif inaugurated the Commissioner Lahore Under-13 Hockey League 2022 by hitting the ball with a hockey and also displayed the glittering trophy during the opening ceremony held here at the National Hockey Stadium on Thursday.

The CM Punjab felicitated all the players participating in the tournament and informed that 1100 players participated in the trials of the league and later, 180 players were selected on merit. Hamza hoped that the players participating in the tournament would become part of the national hockey team and hopefully, earn name and fame for their country and the nation through their hard work, dedication and devotion.

The CM Punjab revealed that the talent hunt scheme of U-13 Hockey League has been made part of the annual calendar of Sports Board Punjab and the continuation of hockey league being organized every year would be extended across the Punjab province. MPA Hina Pervaiz Butt, Tahia Noon, Imran Goraya, Majid Zahoor, Legal Advisor Ali Raza, Commissioner Lahore Capt (R) M Usman, Deputy Commissioner Lahore Umer Sher Chattha, DG SBP M Tariq Qureshi, Director Sports Nadeem Qaiser, Syed Omair Hasan and several other sports personalities were also present on this occasion.

A large number of current and past Olympians including former skippers Akhtar Rasool, Manzoor Junior, PHF Secretary Asif Bajwa, Tauqeer Dar, Dr Tariq Aziz, Kh Junaid, former skipper M Saqlain, captain of national hockey team Umer Bhutta and Ali Shan, hundreds of Under-13 hockey players, coaches and team officials also attended the opening ceremony.

Addressing the inaugural ceremony, Secretary Sports and Youth Affairs Punjab Asadullah Faiz said that holding of U-13 Hockey League is an effort through which Pakistan can reclaim its lost glory. “Now our focus is on competitive sports and we are also going to conduct talent hunt in three age brackets i.e. U-10, U-13 and U-13 to U-16,” Asadullah said and added: “The league is being organized for the first time in the history of the country. Sports and Youth Affairs Department Punjab and Commissioner Office Lahore took a historic step for preparing a large pool of talented young hockey players.”

Commissioner Lahore Capt (R) M Usman thanked all the guests, participants and officials for their participation in the inaugural ceremony. “The merit-based organization of the U-13 Hockey League is the only way to find genuine talented players from grassroots level and then provide properly groomed bench strength to national team.” He said the presence of CM Punjab Hamza Shahbaz at the grand opening ceremony of the league is definitely a great gesture and it could prove to be a great boost for the young hockey players and they would feel proud to have CM in their event.

Capt Usman said as many as nine teams of Lahore Division including three teams from Lahore District (Lahore Green, Lahore White, Lahore Blue) and two teams each from three districts – Kasur (Green and White), Nankana Sahib (Green and White) and Sheikhupura (Green and White) are participating in U-13 Hockey League.

The Commissioner said the trials of the league have been completed at tehsil and district level on the pattern of European structure. “Over 1100 U-13 players took part in the trials from across Lahore Division.” He urged the former and current hockey players to help locate future stars from among participants of U-13 Hockey League.

The National Hockey Stadium was decorated with beautiful flags and banners. The anthem of U-13 Hockey League was also launched on this occasion. Moreover, national anthem and attractive sufi and band performances were also presented during the mega opening ceremony. Dozens of gymnasts and aerobic players won huge appreciation from the large audience through their eye-catching performances. Later, an eye-catching show of fireworks was also presented to amuse the large gathering.