ISLAMABAD - The hockey players World XI and hall of fame, including Pakistan hockey legends and PHF high ups, met with Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa here at General Headquarters Tuesday.

The Army chief lauded the initiative of Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) for bringing the world players to Pakistan. He assured the PHF of Army’s all-out support for provision of security for international hockey matches and revival of the country’s national game.

Talking to The Nation, PHF president Brig (r) Khalid Sajjad Khokhar thanked Gen Bajwa for his keen interest and efforts for sports activities in Pakistan. “The COAS was highly satisfied with the efforts being made by the PHF for bringing international hockey and Hall of Fame super stars of Pakistan. He lauded the international players and legends for visiting the country and also assured his full support for return of international hockey to the country and promised to provide foolproof security to the visiting teams and players.”

Khokhar said not only international stars but living legends Islahuddin Siddiqui, Sami Ullah, Ch Akhtar Rasool, Shahnaz Sheikh and others were also present on the occasion. “The COAS promised to talk to government regarding provision of funds to the PHF, while he especially talked to Dutch players and urged them to bring their national team to Pakistan, saying Pak Army will provide them security and they will feel completely safe wherever they want to play hockey matches.”

Khokhar said the COAS also promised to provide every possible assistance to the federation in conducting Pakistan Hockey League (PHL) or any other international event. “The promise of COAS will help Pakistan hockey flourish and attract international teams and players to Pakistan. After successful conduct of matches in Karachi and Lahore, I am grateful to all, who were part of that historic occasion and I am also thankful to the COAS, as he is always been a huge support to not only hockey, but other sports as well.

“Being a sportsman himself, Gen Bajwa knows the importance of sports and involvement of youth could make huge difference. The way, the COAS invited us, lend a helping hand and promised every possible help to us, is really a morale-boosting and encouraging for the PHF and it will go a long way in helping the federation to invite international teams, send our teams and coaches abroad and youngsters will be the ultimate beneficiaries,” he added.

Khokhar said: “By the grace of Almighty and help of media, we were able to show the world that Pakistan is completely a safe country for hosting all kinds of international events and we are capable of providing the best security to the visiting teams and players. The way families, kids and former greats turned up in huge numbers in Karachi and Lahore, is quite encouraging and it shows that people still want to watch hockey.

“People will see gradually that we will invite top teams and players and conduct 4-nation event very soon. I once again extend open invitation to past legends to join hands with the federation, rather than criticising and levelling baseless allegations. They must work for the betterment of hockey in general and country in particular. By issuing such statements and levelling allegations against us, they will serve no purpose and inflict huge damages to Pakistan hockey,” he added.

“I took over as PHF chief to serve the national game and bring old glory days. The entire world has witnessed mega stars of international hockey along with world’s best known legends were in Pakistan. By creating fuss and negative propaganda, certain elements will get nothing. People want to see national and international hockey and we are working on that. The day is not so far when our players will start delivering. The way juniors played in the second match in Lahore was good enough to open eyes of certain lobby that the federation has been working tirelessly on the fresh lot, who are asset of Pakistan hockey,” Khokhar concluded.