Pakistan’s 19 Dutch ambassadors in Holland | Pakistan Today

Pakistan’s 19 Dutch ambassadors in Holland

The Dar Hockey Academy , functioning in Lahore since 2006, is presently acknowledged as the best in the country. No Pakistani age group side since 2009 has left the country without an academy boy and this year Khalid Bhatti won the national senior colours.
The academy colts have been touring Europe every year since 2010. During the earlier visits, they mainly played against the age group sides in Europe but this year the academy team had most of the fixtures against the Dutch, German and Belgian clubs which are in the top tiers of the domestic leagues of the three countries and achieved amazing results.
During these trips, the youngsters mesmerised the European onlookers with the on field skills and captivated their hearts with the exemplary behavior both on and off the field thus enhancing Pakistan ’s image. In the post-match socializing, the academy president Taqueer Dar always tried to dispel the negative impression about his country and invited hosts to visit Pakistan . Many among the academy’s hosts expressed the desire to visit Pakistan but at the same time they had security concerns. This year, during the Dutch leg of the tour, Rob Lathouwers, one of the most distinguished international umpires, was a remarkable host to the academy team. Taqueer managed to convince Rob to bring a star-studded Dutch veterans’ side to Pakistan .
Security was the main issue. Taqueer’s resourcefulness and untiring efforts bore fruit when Chief Minister Punjab Mian Shahbaz Sharif passed the directives to provide maximum security to the Dutch visitors and their visit became a reality.
The ‘Flying Dutch Veterans’ team reached Lahore on December 1 for a nine-day tour and the local hospitality started before their departure from Holland. The Dutch contingent was feted to a dinner by the Pakistani ambassador in Holland , Ms Fauzia Sana a few days before they flew to Pakistan . She also waived off the visa fees of all the team members.
The visiting side had five former internationals with remarkable credentials. Wouter van Pelt, Martin van Grimbergen, Gys Weterings, Rene Klaassen and Jan Schaltmann have 683 caps between them and represented Holland in Olympics as well as World Cups. Pelt, also the team captain, is one of the most decorated players in the history with two Olympic golds and a World Cup gold. Weterings scored one of the three Dutch goals when they beat Pakistan in the 1990 World Cup final in this very city of Lahore . The visiting side also included two former junior internationals.
The Flying Dutch Veterans played three matches during their stay. They opened against the Aitchison College and most of the visitors played on the grass for the first time in 15 years and were struggling. However, the young Aitchisonians who held the experienced veterans to a 2-2 draw. The second fixture was on the synthetic turf of the recently-built stadium in Johar Town . The Flying Dutch Veterans enjoyed playing on the excellent surface against the young colts of the Dar Academy . The match itself turned out to be a great entertainer for the large crowd, with fortunes fluctuating. The tourists’ experience made the difference in the end as they came out victorious 5-4. The last tie at the same venue against the Punjab Veterans was keenly-anticipated and it evoked a lot of nostalgia. The local veterans’ side fielded many greats of Pakistan hockey such as ManzoorUl Hassan, Shahid Ali Khan, Naeem Akhtar, Khawaja Junaid, Tahir Zaman, among others. The jam-packed stadium enjoyed a goal feast. The Flying Dutch Veterans’ superior fitness saw them through in the end as they came out 7-5 winners. The match was covered by several TV channels. Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who was the chief guest, distributed souvenirs after the match and also presented a shield to the visitors on behalf of the Dar Academy.
These fixtures were also part of the Punjab International Sports Festival conducted by Sports Board Punjab.
The Flying Dutch Veterans during their stay here also visited a number of historic places such as the Lahore Fort, Badshahi Mosque, etc. The wonderful and varied collection at the city’s museum really fascinated them. The flag lowering ceremony at the Wagha Border was a unique experience for the guests. They had a good taste of the Pakistani culture when they visited the Peeru’s café for a dinner hosted by the acting Dutch Ambassador. They were regaled at dinners hosed at the food street, Lahore Gymkhana and the Royal Palm Golf and Country Club.
No surprise when one member of the Flying Dutch Veterans said: “I had the time of my life”. Another remarked:”We were given a royal treatment throughout”.
For any Pakistani, the comments of Rob Lathouwers, the chef de mission of the Flying Dutch Veterans, were the most satisfying: “ Pakistan now has 19 new ambassadors in Holland .”

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