ISLAMABAD  -  Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) Secretary Olympian Shahbaz Ahmad Senior is highly optimistic about the chances of winning the Federation of International Hockey (FIH) executive body member election against the mighty German and Belgium opponents in New Delhi.

Talking to The Nation from New Delhi on Friday, Shahbaz said: “I am currently meeting with world representatives, who are gathered here for the election process. I had very fruitful meetings with representatives of all the leading hockey playing nations and informed them about my services to hockey both as a player and as PHF secretary. If things go accordingly, I am quite confident that I will be able to land the coveted post.”

He said there are two seats available and three candidates are in the running – one from Germany, one from Belgium and he from Asia. “There are 136 delegates from across the globe, who will be casting their votes. I know around 120 votes will be cast, as a few countries are missing. It is very tough competition, but I am hopeful about pulling it off for Pakistan.”

He said people don’t know the significance of being onboard of FIH executive committee, which means that Pakistan and Asia will have say in all the major decisions and being a former World Cup winner and a hockey player, he knows hockey and knows well how to take this game forward more than anyone else.

To a query, Shahbaz said: “I have a huge fan following all over the world and India is not an exception. People love me and they have huge respect for me. I have met with Indian counterparts and other Asian giants, who are going to make the difference in the end. I am sure India, being the candidate from Asia, will vote for me like other Asian countries. I am sure that the western countries will also vote in favour of me.

“If I become member of FIH executive, I will be able to present Pakistan and other countries case very well and will get the best for Asia in the form of mega tournaments and other benefits, like conducting courses for Asian players, umpires and officials.”

The PHF secretary said that all those critics, who point fingers at the federation, should visit India and see the respect they give me and our federation. “I want to clarify all that neither me nor Brig Khalid Sajjad Khokhar need any posts to show our affection towards Pakistan hockey. We accepted the posts as challenge and in a short span of time, we are producing wonders for Pakistan hockey without even financial support for around one year.

“The way Brig Khokhar has been arranging funds through his own sources just for the sake of the country and hockey, it is highly appreciable. The way green shirts performed in the Asian Champions Trophy, it also commendable as their performance is good enough to shut the mouths of critics.”

He said the team has been improving and results are fast reflecting their claims. “Now the Hockey World Cup is just round the corner and we have requested the government and IPC Minister to release funds of around Rs 100 million without any delay. The team is playing well at international level. Although we lost against India yet it was with a narrow margin.

“One thing is crystal clear, the green shirts earn the right to play in the World Cup and we didn’t beg nor got wildcard. The time is high when the government should realise and lend a helping hand to the PHF. I am sure the IPC Minister will take up the issue of PHF finances with the PM and succeed in getting a good amount of funds for the betterment of Pakistan hockey. I once again request PM Imran Khan to look into this matter and help the federation in achieving goals,” Shahbaz concluded.