Olympic hockey coach at Highgate School fights being deported by Home Office

Children lucky enough to be taught by an Olympic hockey star could see their school coach deported to Pakistan as he battles to persuade the Home Office to allow him to stay in the country.

Ali Raza, his wife Gohar, and their two sons, aged seven and nine, are desperate to live permanently in the UK, having made a successful life here.

But an application to renew Mr Raza’s work permit has been under review by the Home Office for some years and a decision has yet to be made on his case.

Mr Raza is a celebrated hockey star in his home country of Pakistan, having been made the country’s Player of the Year for two years running in 1996 and 1997.

He also made the world stage while playing for Pakistan in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, with the team ranked number two in the world and making the semi-final.

The star also played in 1998 Hockey World Cup.

Moving to the UK to become a top-tier “level three coach”, Mr Raza now coaches children at Highgate School in North Road.

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He has been there since February 2014, and also teaches other teams across the UK.

He said of his role at the private school: “I love my work. There are 180,000 hockey players in the UK but only 1,000 hockey coaches at level three.”

Last week, he and his family renewed their application to stay in the country at an Upper Tribunal Immigration and Asylum Chamber in Birmingham.

Ms Lucy Mair, representing the family, said both parents were working, spoke good English and contributed to society and public interests.

She told the judge: “Both children were brought up over here and it would be unfair if the family had to go back to Pakistan because the children have no friends there and the educational system would be new to them. The children have no ties with Pakistan.”

She added: “There would be no openings for Mr Raza as a hockey coach in Pakistan – it would be difficult for him to get such work. All hockey connections have since been severed.”

Mr David Mills, representing the Home Office, said the matter had been considered at a previous hearing without a positive outcome.

A decision on his case is still pending.