ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Hockey Federation secretary Olympian Shahbaz Senior announced PHF would conduct National Hockey Championship from 25th of this month at newly laid Astroturf at National Hockey Stadium Karachi, Chief Minister Sindh, Syed Qaim Ali Shah would inaugurate the event.

Shahbaz expressed these views during an exclusive interview with The Nation on Wednesday. “We are grateful to FIH President and Asian Hockey Federation Chief Executive Officer, Tayyab Ikram as upon their insistence, Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) has extended invitation to PHF for Pakistan 's participation in the 25th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup to be played from 7th to 17th April 2016.”

He said due to former PHF management, Malaysia was very upset and they didn't extend invitation to the PHF last time but now things were back to normal and federation would ensure no repeat of past mistakes. “We would start senior training camp soon after the National Championship.” When asked about the place of the camp, Shahbaz replied: “May be in Karachi, we would decide in time.”

He ruled out paying salaries to previous or present coaches. “We are cash starved and can't afford to pay salaries. Yes we would clear dailies of previous coaches and players but present coaches and support staff had to work without salary. We received Rs 70 million special grant from PM but we owe Rs 30 million to players, coaches and other support staff while we had to clear travel agents bill as well.” He made it clear the federation was not in a position to pay salaries to coaches and can't offer central contracts to players. “We would take up the case in executive committee meeting but Tahir Zaman and others had to work without salaries. As soon as funds improve, we would consider offering central contracts.”

When this scribe asked Shahbaz if Tahir and others refused to work without salaries then what would federation do, he said then they would explore new options. “But it is for sure we can't offer salaries.” When asked about appointment of new senior team coach Shahbaz replied: “We would announce coach after National Championship and calendar for next year as well at that time.” However, he ruled out handing over senior team’s responsibility to Tahir Zaman and made it clear senior team coach would be different. “We want Tahir to work on junior team and provide players to senior team. We were focused on Asian Games as it was ticket for Junior World Cup. Now that task has been achieved.”

He also completely ruled out appointing a foreign coach for the senior team. “No we can't splash out Rs1 million to foreign coach. We would rather appoint a local coach.” When asked that former coaches, chief selector and others were hoping to get reasonable monthly salaries and previous federation president and secretary had promised the same to them, Shahbaz said: “We can't pay salaries to past or present coaches. We are working on a plan to take Pakistan hockey back to past glory days. It is my request to all Olympians and those who matter, to come forward and lend a helping hand to federation. It is a mutual cause and all should be on board. I request them to shun differences and join hands with the federation to work on this noble cause. I had accepted secretary slot with a purpose and took it as a challenge. I want to give more than 100 percent to my country and hockey, as today whatever I am enjoying is just because of hockey. I owe to country and I would return in the best possible way,” Shahbaz concluded.