ISLAMABAD  -  Pakistan Hockey Federation President Brig (r) Khalid Sajjad Khokhar has said that Poland tour to Pakistan will prove very beneficial for the national game as well as local players.

Talking to The Nation, Khokhar said: “My induction in Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) as vice president unopposed is the acknowledgement of the services rendered by the PHF in last three years and it was Shahbaz Senior, who was instrumental in paving the way. The top brass of FIH and AHF is satisfied with the reply of PHF regarding non-participation in pro-league and they also assured their all-out help in the FIH Congress, to be held in Lausanne, Switzerland.

He backed Shahbaz Senior as the perfect secretary for the federation saying he is the right man to get maximum international tournaments for Pakistan. “Shahbaz and I will not only convince the FIH executive board but also try to convince them to give 5-a-side tournament to Pakistan, as we are thinking about conducting the tournament in late April or May.”

The PHF president said that Poland hockey team’s visit to Pakistan has been confirmed and they will play four matches against Pakistani development squad in April. “I have decided to introduce four U-24 teams to play against the visitors, as it will provide us maximum bench-strength and also give the youngsters a chance to play alongside the international players and learn a lot from them. We are planning to invite around 100 youngsters, which were identified during the recently-concluded National Junior Championship in Rawalpindi, while a few more will be invited from across the country.”

He said they are trying to arrange matches with Polish hockey team at Lahore, Karachi and other major cities, but it depends upon funds situation. “Navy has given us all-out backing and we are waiting for Karsaz Hockey Ground to be ready to host Poland, as Karachi suits us a lot.

“The National Hockey Championship will be held in the last week of this month at Lahore and Karachi. In case, we have any issue, we will shift the event to Karachi. Besides departments, provinces and affiliated units, we are also planning to include U-24 teams from different cities, as it will help the juniors exhibit their prowess and earn the right to play for the national team,” he added.

Khokhar said: “The PHF congress held in Islamabad recently where the overwhelming confidence was shown by 93 members out of 111. Due to bad weather and other issues, a few congress members couldn’t attend, but they have given their all-out backing. For those certain individuals, who wanted to sabotage the meeting, I just want to remind them that they all were given roles but they failed to deliver. I just want to advise them that if they can’t help hockey, they must not create hurdles in our way,” he added.

The PHF chief said that hopefully, IPC Minister Dr Fahmida Mirza has now realised that the entire congress is behind the current setup and those, who misguided her, were baldy exposed. “The minister, who herself is a sportsperson, knows well about the working of the federations. I will soon meet with IPC Secretary and ask him to arrange meeting with IPC Minister. I am quite hopeful that the minister will listen to our side of the story and soon PHF funds will be released.”

“I want to request PM Imran Khan to spare some time and meet PHF high-ups for the betterment of the national game. Hockey baldy needs his attention and I am quite sure that he will make the right decision about the national game and order the concerned persons to release the funds of the PHF,” Khokhar concluded.