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Former hockey legends said here on Sunday that they were delighted by the security and the facilities provided during their stay in Pakistan.

Addressing a ceremony hosted in their honour, Paul Litjens said that the game of hockey had changed a lot and that Pakistan would have to adopt new ideas and keep pace with the changes to regain their strength in world hockey.

He said that Pakistan had produced many great players such as Samiullah, Islahuddin, Akhtar Rasool and Shahnaz Sheikh.

Jan Bovelander said that his fondest memories belonged to Pakistan as Holland won the 1990 World Cup in Lahore.

He said Shahbaz Ahmed played the most significant role in the revival of international hockey in Pakistan. “All of us came here on the invitation of Shahbaz Ahmed, who informed us that all is well here in Pakistan. It is peaceful and the conditions are conducive for the revival of international matches,” he said.

He said that he had talked to Pakistan junior players and gave them some tips to improve their performance.

Spain’s Juan Escarre said that it was like a dream come true for him to be in Pakistan.

Germany’s former captain Christian Blunck also addressed the gathering and shared his memories of his playing days related to Pakistan.

Blunck said that Shahbaz was a great friend as they had a long association. “We feel that Pakistan is ready for the revival of international hockey,” he added.

Holland’s umpire Rob Lathouwers said that he had visited Pakistan many times. “This country is like my second home. I always wanted to visit the country as it has made great contribution to hockey,” he added.

PHF president Brig (rtd) Khalid Khokhar and secretary Shahbaz also spoke on the occasion and termed the visit of World XI and former legends of the game a historic occasion.

They thanked all the visitors for coming and helping PHF in reviving international hockey in Pakistan.

They said that Pakistanis would always remember their cooperation. The dinner reception was attended also by Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Najam Sethi and provincial sports minister Jehangir Shuja Khanzada.

Syed Intikhab Ali The News