PHF President Brig (r) Khalid Sajjad Khokhar said that after strengthening domestic hockey across the country and qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, qualification for the 2020 Olympics and successful organisation of the Pakistan Hockey League next year are the federation’s main focus.
Brig (r) Khalid Sajjad Khokhar said that during the last couple of years, the PHF has successfully revived the national sport. “When we took the charge of the PHF management, the national hockey team had failed to qualify for the World Cup and Olympics,” he said. “More than 12 domestic teams were closed and our leading players were jobless. The younger generation — even the boys of hockey fraternity didn’t opt for hockey due to its alarming condition.”
He added: “But the PHF did not lose hope, as first we breathed life into the domestic structure, established at least five to six new domestic teams — including Fauji Fertilizers, SNGPL, ZTPBL, OGDCL and POF Wah — re-opened a number of closed teams, introduced four to six big competitions with handsome prize money and organised the 1st National Under-16 School Hockey Championship in Khairpur.”
Khokhar said the PHF provided jobs to around 100 players who took part in the national training camps and that was the reason “our younger generation started showing interest in hockey”.
He said with all these steps they brought the game back from the brink of isolation and invited the FIH and Asia Hockey Federation officials to Pakistan to show them that Pakistan is a safe country. “With the help of FIH and AHF, the World X1 also played in the country. For the first time in the history of Pakistan hockey 11 foreign players participated in our domestic hockey.”
The PHF chief said slowly but surely hockey was getting back on the right track and “inshaAllah, our main focus will be to qualify for the 2020 Olympics and also to organise the Pakistan Hockey League next year”.
Khokhar said due to lack of international exposure, a big vacuum has been created between the Pakistan team and world’s other strong sides. “That is why we hired the services of coach Roelant Oltmans and other foreign experts.
“Oltmans’ appointment proved successful as in just 20 days under him the Green-shirts were able to play outstandingly in the Commonwealth Games in Australia, where we did not lose any match and came out undefeated for the first time in the last several years,” he said.
But he admitted that a lot of work has to be done to improve the team’s ranking and restore the image of Pakistan hockey.Khokhar said PHF Secretary Shahbaz Ahmed played a vital role in all the developments. “His experience, fame and contacts helped the PHF bring international hockey back to Pakistan.”Khokhar said the PHF would hold a six-nation tournament in September in the country.
Syed Intikhab Ali – The News