Leandro Negre, the president of the International Hockey Federation (FIH), yesterday inaugurated the First Security Islami Bank Limited National School Hockey Tournament through a colourful ceremony at the Maulana Bhasani Hockey Stadium. The nationwide school hockey tournament, first of its kind in Bangladesh, will be contested by 102 schools from all 64 districts of the country.
“We acknowledge that there are great possibilities in Bangladesh hockey and they have performed very well in the World Hockey League last year. This school tournament will add to the pace of development of hockey in this country. I can also say that the installation of the astroturf (for which the Bangladesh Hockey Federation had approached the FIH a year ago) is almost a reality,” said the world hockey governing body's chief after inaugurating the tournament.
The opening ceremony was preceded by speeches from chief guest Biren Shikder MP, state minister for youth and sports, president of the BHF Air Marshal Enamul Bari, Negre, managing director of sponsors First Security Islami Bank AAM Zakaria and tournament committee chairman Mahfuzur Rahman. The colourful opening ceremony included a theme song by SI Tutul, display performance from the girls of Brishreshtha Abdur Rauf Girls' College followed by an exhibition match.
A total of 29 teams will qualify for the final round that will begin in the capital on 24 February. At the end of the tournament on March 7, 65 players will be selected for intensive higher training with a view to grooming them for the future.
Earlier in the day, Negre visited the Bangladesh Krira Shikkha Protishthan (BKSP) in Savar, along with the managing director of the turf-providing company SIT, Stephen Niven and inspected the various facilities of the sports school.