Stoke & Staffordshire

London 2012: Pakistan hockey team arrive in Cannock

The Pakistan hockey team have arrived at their training camp in Staffordshire for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The team selected Cannock Hockey Club, based at Chase Park, because it has two water-based pitches, the type that will be used in the Games.

Captain Suhail Abbas said: "The pitches help us prepare but we're also getting used to the weather and climate."

Pakistan has been drawn in the same group as Team GB for the preliminary round of the Olympic hockey tournament.

Chair of Chase Park, Jamie Fleet, said: "There's been a lot of behind the scenes hard work to get the team here, making sure they're safe, making sure the food is right, making sure the hotel is good."

"Everything we've done is geared to making their stay perfect, really."

'Top world team'

The team played a three-match series with England on Cannock's pitches, near the town of Hatherton, in 2009.

Waseem Ahmed said: "Last time we played here a lot of Pakistani people that live here and local people came to cheer us on.

"It's good that people have that interest and we get that support because it's good for the confidence and preparation."

A group of children from St Luke's Primary School in Cannock were given coaching sessions by the Pakistan players, who will also hold a number of open training sessions over the next two weeks.

Cannock hockey club said the team were also planning to play a couple of friendly games that people could come to watch.

Councillor Pat Corfield, cabinet member for culture, communities and customers at Staffordshire County Council, said the town was "proud" to be hosting the team.

"They're one of the top teams in the world and to have them here in Cannock, it's great for the local community and puts the County on the Olympic map," he said.

"It's a chance for local people to come down and see some of the world's best players in their back garden."

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