ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) secretary Rana Mujahid Thursday revealed that Pakistan team would not be able to participate in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia.

Talking to The Nation, Rana said: “Besides Azlan Shah Cup, it will be almost impossible for the federation to fulfill other international commitments as we need immediate financial assistance from the government.”

He said that the training camp for the Azlan Shah Cup should have been started much earlier, but the federation was completely out of funds. “We need at least Rs 20 million to start training camp and prepare for other international meets. We have requested Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif to release at least Rs 300 million to enable the PHF to run day-to-day affairs and prepared for international meets.”

He said that they wanted to participate in Commonwealth and Asian Games, where they would be defending champions, but with current poor state of financial affairs, it would be almost impossible to even think about establishing camps, so participation in such high-profile events was a far cry.

“We want to lift the standard of hockey in the country and our main focus will be holding at least 10 national tournaments this year, but we need funds for that purpose. I have met with secretary Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) Ministry who assured me early release of annual grant from Pakistan Sports Board (PSB),” Rana asserted.

“We are in close contact with at least six hockey playing nations who are not A grade teams, but at least holding of international event in Pakistan will ensure return of international hockey in the country. We have proposed a six-nation PM Gold Cup Hockey Tournament and we have already sent proposal to the FIH. They are more than willing to allocate the event which involves top national sides,” he added.

He said they had contacted Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) and proposed a three-match hockey bilateral series. “We have had lengthy discussions with Narinder Batra who assured his all-out support but said that the proposed series could only take place subject to clearance from the Indian government. In this regard, IPC secretary Ch Ijaz personally discussed with Batra and now we want that issue to be taken through government-to-government level.”

“We have also held meetings with different sponsors and we are quite optimistic that we may strike a deal with the sponsors. We have also sought annual grant of Rs 500 million in every budget for the federation and we can regain lost hockey glory if the proposed grant is released by the government,” Rana stated.

“We have hired specialist people for every department and we will utilize former world cup winning captain Mansoor Ahmed services for training goalkeepers in Islamabad. I once again offer to former greats and Olympians to join hands with us and work for the cause of taking Pakistan hockey back to old glory days. I am ready to visit each and every individual personally and they will be offered respectable portfolios and ready to listen to their genuine demands,” he added.

To a query regarding two parallel POA’s in the country, the PHF secretary replied: “We will follow the government instructions as we have written a letter to PSB Director General and sought his guidelines in this regard.

We don’t want to enter politics as we are sportsmen and want to concentrate only on sports.”

“We have requested PSO and NADRA to help the PSF and offered them title sponsorship. They will inform us next month after their annual general council meeting and hopefully, things will go in right direction,” Rana concluded.