LAUNCESTON'S Tamar Churinga Hockey Club has secured an unprecedented Tasmanian sporting coup, landing the second most-capped international of all time as its playing coach.
``Beyond exciting,'' is how club president Phil Deavin described securing the services of former Pakistan captain Waseem Ahmad for the next two seasons.
``It's a bit like David Beckham coming to play for your local soccer club,'' he said. ``It's the same magnitude in hockey circles.''
Perhaps the biggest coup in Tasmanian club sport since Kiwi all-rounder Richard Hadlee played cricket for Riverside 35 years ago, the signing is a boost for the club and was secured with the help of Deavin's son, Australian international Tim, who won the 2013 Malaysian championships alongside Ahmad for Kuala Lumpur.
Ahmad is Pakistan's most-capped player with 410 international appearances, second only in international hockey to the Netherlands' two-time Olympic champion Teun de Nooijer (431).
The 37-year-old left-half is just the second Pakistani to play in four consecutive world cups, has two silver and four bronze medals from Champions Trophy tournaments, won a bronze medal at the 2002 Commonwealth Games and was selected in the World XI to play against the Netherlands in 1999 as part of the Federation of International Hockey 75th anniversary celebrations.
He retired after his third Olympic Games in London where Pakistan finished seventh, and played against Deavin in a 7-0 win for Australia.
Tamar Churinga advertised internationally back in November for a men's coach in the Greater Northern League and Ahmad noticed the connection to his teammate and applied.
A six-month immigration process ended on Monday when he was granted a visa, after which Deavin snr revealed the news to club members.
``This is an amazing opportunity for our club and indeed the state, and one that almost every club in the world could be envious of,'' Deavin said.
``Waseem has an incredible international hockey career and we are incredibly privileged to have him come to us.
``I put Tim's name on the advert and Tim has supported his application by saying he is a top bloke, an incredible talent and would be a massive boost to our club.
``This is beyond our wildest dreams to get someone of this calibre. If we'd got someone who had coached at state level we would have been happy, let alone the second most capped player of all time.''
Ahmad is expected in Tasmania in May but will leave to attend the world cup in The Hague before returning for the remainder of the GNL season.
Deavin jnr played once for his home-town club last season and hopes to return around this season's busy international schedule which features a world cup, champions trophy and the Commonwealth Games.