ISLAMABAD   -   Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) Secretary Olympian Shahbaz Senior has confirmed that Uzbekistan national hockey team will tour Pakistan from April 27 to May 10 and play matches against Pakistan development squad at National Hockey Stadium, Lahore.

In an interview with The Nation, Shahbaz said: “Earlier, Uzbekistan team was supposed to arrive on April 20, but due to certain reasons, the dates were changed. We will pick Pakistan development squad from five teams, which are playing matches in Gojra from Wednesday.

“We are working on grassroots level and the basic aim of holding five-team tournament in Gojra is to find fresh talent and provide them with opportunities to play against international teams. It will also provide international matches exposure to the youngsters and help them prepare well for pressure matches,” he added.

The PHF secretary said nothing can be done without money so critics must understand that the federation is working on war-footings to produce results and also ensure players get maximum opportunities to exhibit their prowess and get employment for their better future.

“I have a simple question for critics that whether it is essential to hold an office in the federation to serve Pakistan hockey. If they are really sincere to the national game, they can come up with plans and share with the federation and I can assure them that we will not only give them full credit, but also implement their positive suggestions/recommendations in true letter and spirit.

“The matter of the fact is that neither they have any plan nor they are serious about Pakistan hockey. They are just working on point-scoring and trying to inflict huge damages on Pakistan hockey. These dirty tactics will serve no purpose to hockey, but Pakistan hockey and players will surely suffer because of this,” he added.

Shahbaz said: “As far as FIH disciplinary committee’s decision of imposing out-of-the-moon Euros 170,000 fine on PHF is concerned, I want to clarify that the disciplinary committee has just sent their recommendations to the FIH, which are duly forwarded to the PHF by the international body. It will be discussed in the next FIH Executive Board meeting where each and every member will throw light on the disciplinary committee’s findings and we will also get chance to present our side of story.

“If we have Rs 20 million with us, then why we couldn’t participate in the Pro Hockey League in Argentina. We are pleading with the FIH that the federation is cash-starved and we are unable to pay such a hefty amount suggested by the disciplinary committee. Until the FIH executive committee meeting is held, Pakistan hockey team can play international matches and in case the fine proposed by the disciplinary committee stands, we will avoid ban and punishments after paying first installment,” he added.

“The tireless efforts of PHF President Brig (r) Khalid Sajjad Khohkar for Pakistan hockey can’t denied. I request Prime Minister Imran Khan to spare some time and invite the federation for a much-anticipated meeting. I can assure that the things will be crystal clear after the meeting and discussing our plans with the PM,” Shahbaz concluded.