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The organising committees for World Hockey XI visit to Pakistan and Pakistan Hockey League (PHL) would be announced after a meeting of PHF congress in Islamabad on January 4, said Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) secretary Shahbaz Ahmed.

The World XI will play matches against Pakistan in Karachi on January 19 and in Lahore on January 21. PHF has started the preparation for its annual Congress meeting in Islamabad. The PHL and the visit of the World XI will be on top of the agenda.

The Congress will take important decisions about domestic hockey, international events, and engagements of senior, junior and women teams. Financial issues and domestic hockey calendar will also be discussed.

Besides, the meeting will discuss the Hall of Fame awards ceremony in which PHF will honour some of the hockey legends, including players from other countries. The PHF wants the ceremony to be remembered for a long period. The ceremony is to take place in Karachi but its date is yet to be announced.

The expected foreign hockey legends include Paul Litgens and Floris Jan Bovelander of Holland, Juan Escarre of Spain and Christian Blunck of Germany. The Pakistani greats likely to be honoured include Islahuddin, Hasan Sardar and Shahnaz Sheikh.

The PHF critics, including former Olympians and local organisers of the game, are keenly watching these developments. They have acknowledged that many good things have happened in domestic hockey. They appreciated the progress in domestic hockey, as some new teams have been established who played well in the national championship such as Fuji Fertilizer Company (FFC) and ZTBL.

Jobs have also been provided to a number of national-level players. But at the same time, the PHF has nothing to say as far as the Green-shirts’ performance at the international level are concerned. Olympian Qamar Zia, who has been a critic of PHF policies, said that the hockey fraternity welcomed the PHF’s efforts to invite World XI to Pakistan.

“The visit of a world eleven is great. It would be a great step towards full revival of international hockey on the grounds of Pakistan,” he told ‘The News’.Qamar said that he did not criticise PHF for the sake of criticism but when Pakistan team continuously lost at the international level and the Green-shirts faced embarrassing defeats at the hands of teams like Japan, he and others had the right to criticise the PHF. “They have lost to India three times and were thrashed by Australia 9-2,” he added.

He said that the current management of the PHF had occupied their positions for more than two years now, but there was no improvement in the performance of the Green-shirts. “This is worrying and we will speak about this,” he said. Qamar further said that the year 2018 was very important for Pakistan hockey. “We will play some very important events, including Asian Games, Asian Hockey Championship, and the World Cup, so everyone wants Pakistan team’s performance to improve. Let’s see what PHF manages to do. They should at least put up fight. The fighting spirit and dignity and bravery should be seen in the team which used to be our attributes,” said Zia, who was Pakistan’s goalkeeper in many great victories.

“We don’t criticise just because they lose. That’s part of the game. We know Pakistan team has been out of the competitions and lacks experience but the way they have been losing is unacceptable,” he said. He added that Pakistan should first focus on playing well at the Asian level. Asian Games and Asian Champions Trophy are important events, he said. He also appreciated organising the PHL in the country and said it would be beneficial to Pakistan hockey.