Quartet from Tanvir Dar HA makes Pakistan squad


The Sultan Johor Junior hockey tournament that commenced in Johor Bahru, Malaysia on Saturday (event to run from November 5 to 12) has a very strong lineup. In fact, it would not be wrong to term it as an unofficial Asia-Oceania or Australasia junior championship. The top four Asian nations: South Korea, Pakistan, India and Malaysia as well as Australia and New Zealand will all be present. The tourney will be staged in the stadium built for the 2009 Junior World Cup’s final round. Like the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament for the national teams, the Sultan Johor Junior tournament will also become an annual event. It has already been sanctioned by the FIH and will be a part of its calendar.
The Pakistani junior squad includes four players from Tanvir Dar Hockey Academy. The Lahore-based, privately run academy running without any help from government or the PHF has become a consistent source of exciting young talent for the Pakistan hockey. The Tanvir Dar HA quartet in the national junior squad consists of two defenders and an equal number of forwards. Both the fullbacks, Aleem Bilal and Khalid Bhatti are tall and rangy. They already have figured in major international victories. Aleem, who hails from Peer Mahal in district Toba Tek Singh, figured in the Pakistan’s victorious team of the Under-18 Asia Cup in November 2009. The Lahore boy Khalid Bhatti, also has a notable achievement: having figured in the gold medal winning Pakistan junior side at the 2010 SAF games in Dacca. The two strikers from the Dar HA, Arsalan Qadir and Bilal Qadir have not only been part of international triumphs of Pakistan junior squads but have also achieved individual distinctions. If the D.G. Khan boy Arsalan, with 10 goals, was the joint top scorer at the inaugural youth Olympics last year where Pakistan won the silver medal, the mercurial Bilal Qadir of Peer Mahal was the top scorer at this year’s junior Asia Cup in Singapore. They first wore the Pakistan junior colours for the victorious squad of the Under-18 Asia Cup in late 2009. Now, the duo is knocking on the doors of the Pakistan team. Both have been included amongst the probables for the senior national side this year. Arsalan attended the camp for the European tour this July while Bilal was called for the first Asian Champions Trophy in September.