ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) secretary Olympian Rana Mujahid confirmed that trials for the selection of national hockey team for Olympic qualifiers were postponed Thursday due to the sudden death of national selector Arshad Ali Chawdhry.

Rana informed that the trials would be held here at the Naseer Bunda Hockey Stadium today (Friday) and were reduced to one day instead of two days. The team will be announced by chief selector Olympian Islahuddin Siddiqui soon after the completion of trials. “The entire hockey family is feeling very sad, as selector Arshad Ali Chawdhry was not only a great hockey player, but also a thorough gentleman. He had represented the country in two Olympics and one world cup and was performing selection committee member duties in highly-professional manner. We were expecting him to join us in Islamabad for trials, but instead of him, the tragic news of his death reached us. The players were also very sad as they had cordial relations with late Arshad Ch.”

Meanwhile, Pakistan hockey team players including skipper M Imran trained here at Naseer Bunda Stadium on Thursday evening. Pakistan team would be selected from 26 players as the team received body blow as midfielder Tasawar Abbas and experienced fullback Kashif Ali ruled out from the trials due to injuries. Tasawar left knee was badly bruised in Korea during practice matches against Korean hockey team. Although he had recovered well and was playing superbly during the training session, yet the injury once again hit him and deprived him of representing the country in Olympic qualifiers. Highly-experienced fullback Kashif Ali damaged his crucial knee ligaments and was ruled out for at least three weeks. Tasawar Ababs MRIs were conducted by the federation and he was advised at least three weeks rest.

The inside sources have confirmed to this scribe that Tasawar injury was of quite serious nature and he might take more than three weeks to get back to playing fields. The sources feared for his career and termed injury career-threatening, while Kashif injury was not so serious and he would soon start practice again.

When contacted head coach Shahnaz Sheikh about the Tasawar and Kashif injuries, he confirmed Tasawar MRI reports indicated that he was out for three weeks, while Kashif was also out for at least 2 to 3 weeks. “Off course, Kashif was very senior player and key figure in team’s defense. His absence will affect our plans but we have to live with that, we have back up plan and I am hopeful we will get desired results from the back up player, while Tasawar was a key figure in midfield and he had earned name for himself in very short span of time. I hope he would soon recover and return to practice.”

About Arshad’s death, Shahnaz said: “I still can't believe Arshad Chawdhry is no more. I talked to him two days back and he was feeling a bit down, but I could not have dreamed he would leave us very soon. I had played alongside him and always found him highly inspirational and motivated player. He always gave tremendous respect not only to seniors but also to juniors. I pray Allah Almighty rest his soul in eternal peace and grant his family courage to bear this irreparable loss.”

Chief selector Islahuddin termed Arshad’s death a great loss for Pakistan hockey and his services would be remembered for a long period of time. “He was a very sweet friend and highly professional player. He used to mix up with players, buck them up and encourage them to play for the country.”

Meanwhile, Olympians Salim Shirwant, Ayaz Mehmood, Khalid Bashir, Shahbaz Senior, Musaddaq Hussain, Tahir Zaman, Saeed Khan, Qasim Zia, Asif Bajwa, Rana Mujahid and others have offered their condolences to PHF president Chaudhry Akhtar Rasool, as Arshad was brother-in-law and close relative of the PHF president.