A 20-member Sports Authority of India’s (SAI) National Women’s Hockey Academy team arrived here on Monday afternoon to play six friendly matches against Bangladesh Women’s Hockey team beginning on Tuesday at the Maulana Bhasani Hockey Stadium here.
Bangladesh Women’s Hockey team will play a six-match series ahead of their maiden participation in the eight-team Women’s Junior (U-21) AHF Cup Asia Cup Hockey Qualifiers, scheduled to be held in Singapore from September 9–15 this year.
The first friendly match will kick at 4 pm on Tuesday.
Youth and Sports Secretary Dr Zafar Uddin will inaugurate the event as the chief guest.
The 2nd friendly match is scheduled for August 22 at 4 pm while 3rd on August 23 at 7 pm, 4th one on August 25 at 4 pm, 5th one on August 26 at 7 pm and the 6th and last match on August 28 at 4 pm, all at the Maulana Bhasani National Stadium here.
Senior Vice-President of Bangladesh Hockey Federation (BHF) Abdur Rashid Shikder disclosed this at a press conference at Bangladesh Hockey Federation office here on Monday.
“We’ll announce our 18-member final squad for the upcoming Women’s Junior AHF Cup Hockey Qualifiers after the 3rd friendly match on August 23,” Rashid said.
“Our girls are going to participate in the first time in an international event. It’s just a beginning of women’s hockey in Bangladesh. We have a plan to form a senior women’s hockey team in addition to arrange women’s hockey league,” the BHF senior vice-president added.
BHF executive members Badrul Islam Dipu, Khawja Taher Latif Munna, new advisory coach of Bangladesh Ajay Kumar Bansal, assistant coaches Shahidullah Titu and Hedayetul Islam Rajib, and players of Bangladesh Women’s Hockey team were also present on the occasion.
Part-time Indian advisory coach Ajay Kumar Bansal said, “The team are very talented. They need extensive exposure and they have to do practice continuously. It’s just the beginning. So, don’t expect any big result from them.”
Asked about the visiting Indian team, Bansal said, “Visiting Indian team are a very strong side. Bangladeshi girls will have an opportunity to learn many things from them and as well as to gather experiences to play international matches. Celebrity Indian hockey coach and Dronacharya awardee Maharaj Krishan Kaushik will come with the team. Bangladeshi girls will know many things from him.”
One of the key players of Bangladesh Women’s team Sadia Khanom said, “We’ve practised well. Our coaches are also good. We’ve learnt a lot. I do hope we can win 2-3 matches against the Indian team.”