ISLAMABAD  -   The 2018 also proved to be a miserable year for Pakistan hockey, as the national team failed to win a single major tournament with only exception of Asian Champions Trophy in Muscat, Oman, where the green shirts shared the trophy with archrivals India as rain washed-out the final.

Despite trying their level best to start a dream project Pakistan Hockey League (PHL), Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) also failed to take off due to lack of government support. But to the credit of PHF President Brig (R) Khalid Sajjad Khokhar and Secretary Olympian Shahbaz Senior, they managed to restore international hockey in Pakistan as World XI visited the country and played matches in Karachi and Lahore. The Hall of Fame series was held and the international goalkeepers’ camp was also conducted in Karachi.

The federation didn’t receive a single penny grant in entire 2018 from previous and present governments. Pakistan hockey team could have faced huge embarrassment by missing Champions Trophy in Netherlands, had Brig Khokhar not arranged funds through personal resources. He even took loan from friends to clear dues of Pakistani hockey team players and officials. The national team remained unfortunate to lose the semifinals of Asian Games Hockey in Jakarta against Japan.

Shahbaz Senior was elected in FIH Board while Pakistan hosted 4-nation tournament in Lahore. The federation had to suffer two major setbacks in 2018 as first foreign coach Roelant Oltmans left national hockey team sighting personal problems, but later, it was discovered that he left due to delays in his salaries and he joined Malaysian hockey team as head coach. The biggest jolt, which the federation had to face, was the resignation of Secretary Shahbaz Senior, who after getting frustrated by government’s behaviour, tendered his resignation to the PHF President.

It was hoped that new government under Prime Minister Imran Khan would come to rescue of national game and at least invite President and Secretary for meeting, but neither the PM nor even IPC Minister Dr Fahmida Mirza spared time for hockey. Former legends continued their onslaught against the federation, but they never bothered to come up with plans. They all need jobs or offices to contribute towards national game hockey.

Although Pakistan hockey team failed to win major titles, including failing to win a single match in the World Cup in India, but it was neither the federation’s fault nor the players’ rather lack of funds and international exposure were the main reasons behind poor finish of the national team in the mega event.

Had the government paid heed towards PHF President and Secretary’s pleas in resolving minor issues and releasing funds, the things could have been far better. Finishing 12th in World Cup is by no means a great achievement, but one must keep in mind that Pakistan team failed to qualify for 2014 World Cup and they also failed to qualify for 2016 Rio Olympics. Once again the qualifying round of the Tokyo Olympic 2020 is just round the corner so the PM and IPC Minister should have mercy on national game. They must intervene and bring Shahbaz Senior back to PHF Secretary slot and then conduct a meeting with PHF high ups, listen to them and try to accommodate them so that the long-standing issue of Pakistan hockey must be resolved.

In case the PM wants to change the office-bearers of the federation, he should for it, as time is running out fast. Brig Khokhar and Shahbaz have done more than reasonable job under current circumstances as they arranged funds through private sponsors like Zalmi Foundation, without government and private sector support. No one could expect over the night results so it is high-time when the government should take hockey very seriously or else all the past records of Pakistan hockey would only remain in history books.