HKFC Hockey – More Than A Game

Sporting the Hong Kong Football Club badge on the pitch is enough to fill anyone with pride but the work happening off it is proving to be a real winner of late. In the past few months, the Hockey Section’s aptly named ‘More Than A Game’ campaign has been busy striking up a charitable alliance in the depths of central Pakistan.

Situated in Toba Tek Singh, Toba Sports Hockey Club has been running a youth academy since 1986, despite its lack of external funding and the extremely basic resources it has to offer. Our very own Ishtiaq Malik is a product of this academy, having started there when he was just ten years old, and his connection to the Club has recently allowed the Toba academy to receive donations for the first time in its history.

“For many years I’ve been trying to help; so when Chappie told me there was a chance, I called them in Toba and they were all so happy,” said Ishtiaq. “We rely on donations, that’s why HKFC has been so helpful by sending balls, sticks, kit and hockey equipment back home because we want to keep the academy going.”

The academy currently has forty children aged from eight to eighteen years old, most of whom are from poor, working class families who can’t afford any equipment and they even have to play on sand and dirt pitches - might have to find a new excuse for a mis-trap on astro now!

Ishtiaq knows what the donations mean to the children, as he himself benefited from the charity of his coach, Mohammed Umer, who saved up money from his vegetable business to buy him shoes and a stick which helped him achieve his dream of playing for Pakistan. Umer, who has dedicated 30 years of coaching to the academy, has never been paid a penny, so Ishtiaq is extremely proud that he can now repay him and help the next generation of potential Toba superstars by providing them with vital kit and hockey equipment.

He added: “My coach said the feeling is so good, as HKFC are the first Club that have helped us. I can’t explain how happy they were to receive goalie kit as well because that costs HK$20,000 to buy. It was all just a dream for the children before and then that dream became a reality when they received the first kit and they had that amazing feeling.”

“I feel really proud that I can help them and the juniors over there are happy because they know people are showing faith in them and giving them hope.”

Will Holderness