HBT Championship begins

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Waqiuddin Rajak

ROARS of Bruneian football supporters echoed at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium, following the opening of the Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy (HBT) Championship last night.

All four corners of the stadium were packed with people bringing in their props and personalized cheers for Brunei, following its match against Timor Leste post opening ceremony.

Coming to the stadium to launch the championship was His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, accompanied by other members of the royal family.

On hand to receive the monarch was His Royal Highness Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah, in his capacity as the President of National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD) and Advisor to the tournament’s executive committee.

Alongside him was the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Yang Berhormat Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Hj Aminuddin Ihsan Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Hj Abidin, who is also the chairman for the tournament.

Members of the competing teams were lined up on the field, together with their coaches and managers as well as match officials and uniformed band performers to receive the monarch upon his arrival.

Pictures: Infofoto

His Majesty’s arrival to the Royal Dias was followed by a national anthem; with supporters standing up together from their seats in honour of the sportsmanship to be displayed by Brunei’s under-21 representatives for the tournament.

The monarch then consented to officially launch the event, signified by him placing a football onto a pedestal, followed by a show of fireworks and a performance by 2,500 people comprising students and government officials.

The Sultan, along with his Royal entourage was then ushered to the field to meet with members of the competing teams and match officials, before heading back to the Royal Dias to watch the opening match.

Brunei has hosted the HBT Championship since 2002, seeing Indonesia emerging as the champion for the first tournament, followed by Thailand who dominated the second and third in 2005 and 2007. Brunei claimed the championship title in 2012; which went to Myanmar, after winning the latest tournament back in 2014.

The Bruneian