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ISLAMABAD – Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) president Brig (r) Khalid Sajjad Khokhar has confirmed that Hall of Fame and World XI will tour Pakistan in November and play one match each at Lahore, Karachi and Rawalpindi.

Brig Khokhar said this while talking to The Nation on Thursday and said: “Five international top Hall of Famers and five Pakistani top legends will visit to different venues during World XI visit to Pakistan. Ever since, I had taken over the reins of the PHF, I tried my level best to help Pakistan hockey regain lost glory, but also gave respect to legends, provide maximum exposure to not seniors, juniors and women players.” He said he had always paid heed to all the positive suggestions of not only past greats, media, but also paid numerous visits to different cities to hunt fresh talent. “I always requested stakeholders to shun differences for the sake of hockey and work as a team, as without sharing ideas and working as team, we can’t move forward.

“I always tried to make the federation self-reliant and not to depend solely on government for funds, but as hockey was not like cricket in Pakistan, we have to depend mainly on government. Let me assure all that I had made lot of plans and very soon, we will make federation non-dependable on government,” he added.

He said main objective of starting Nishan-e-Haider Hockey Tournament at Abdul Sattar Edhi Hockey Stadium, Karachi from October 4 to 11 is to pay homage to the sons of soil, who laid down their lives to defend motherland. “All nine participating teams are named after the recipients of Nishan-e-Haider. The hockey-9 concept will bear desired results for the federation and country. We have tried to give chance to youngsters, that’s why we have selected less than 25-year-old players while no department is involved. The basic aim of starting the series is to prepare two U-19 teams for Pakistan, as it will enhance fresh pool of players and we will be able to polish the young blood.”

The PHF chief said the most-anticipated and long-awaited first edition of Pakistan Hockey League (PHL) will be launched in April next year. “We have hired same marketing team, which was hired by the PCB for launching the Pakistan Super League. We will not depend on government for funds rather we will generate them from private sector and sponsors. Total 6 to 7 teams will be seen in action in the first PHL while 5 to 6 international players will represent each franchise and the matches will be held in Gojra, Faisalabad, Lahore and Karachi.

“We are working on this project for the last one year or so and now we are just waiting for the government to provide us NOC. As soon as we get the nod of approval, we will finalise the players, exact dates, venues and international mega stars. We know it is a huge project and would be like dream come true.

“Without introducing fresh ideas, generating funds, involving international top stars, we won’t be able to involve youth, who has long turned their backs on the national game. Although a lot of time had been wasted in the past, but it’s never too late. I am working sincerely and not afraid of taking tough and bold decisions. I will leave no stone unturned to ensure Pakistan take giant strides in hockey world,” Brig Khokhar concluded.