LAHORE: Regarding Oman junior team’s visit as significant in reviving international hockey in Pakistan, president of the Pakistan Hockey Federation, retired Brig Khalid Khokhar, on Monday hoped more foreign teams would be touring the country.
“The visit of Oman’s U-18 squad has broken the deadlock over the return of international hockey to Pakistan. [After the Oman series] we now look forward to hosting Argentina’s junior team in December this year and Chinese senior team early next year,” Khalid told APP in an exclusive interview here.
The PHF chief was upbeat about the return of international hockey to Pakistan after the visit of Oman’s U-18 squad, terming the series with the Gulf nation’s team a lifeline for hockey at home.
“During the past several years our hockey suffered badly due to the foreign teams’ refusal to tour Pakistan. However, the visit of Oman’s U-18 team is a positive sign for Pakistan hockey as the series will motivate other foreign teams too [to tour Pakistan]in due course of time,” said Khalid.
He said Argentina’s junior team would arrive in the first week of December to play a three-match series against their Pakistan counterparts, prior to the green-shirts’ participation in the Dec 8-18 Junior World Cup in Lucknow.
“The Argentine team’s visit will be followed by the tour of China’s senior team in early 2017.”
Khalid added: “During our recent visit to China we had fruitful meetings with the officials of Chinese hockey federation; during these meetings we discussed the details of a bilateral series between [senior teams of]Pakistan and China.
Oman squad’s visit termed crucial in reviving international hockey
“First the Chinese team will visit Pakistan after which our senior team will undertake a return tour to China as part of the planned bilateral series.”
He said the PHF was making all possible efforts to ensure the return of international hockey to Pakistan, adding in this regard it had already started the process of sending invitations to a number of Asian hockey nations to visit Pakistan.
“Resumption of international hockey in Pakistan is not an overnight process, there is no shortcut to it. What is important is the continuation of efforts on our part to convince foreign teams to visit Pakistan where they will be provided foolproof security,” the PHF chief emphasised.
The federation — in order to promote the national game across Pakistan — was working on different plans, including broadening the base of the game and reshaping junior and senior teams.
“We have formed a new junior team; we are also in the process of rebuilding our senior outfit by infusing new blood, keeping in mind the main objective of our senior team which is to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics,” he asserted.
Admitting that the present financial condition of the PHF was not sound, Khalid acknowledged that government’s financial help would indeed enable the federation to lift and promote the game.
“Financial assistance [from government]will help the PHF continue its efforts to develop the game and ensure participation of national sides in tournaments abroad,” he said.
“Currently, we are in the process of evolving a system to lure more business houses to hockey for generating funds, and we are getting gradual success in this regard. In recent months, we successfully organised two elite national-level tournaments, in Lahore and Karachi, with the patronage of private sponsors,” the PHF president stated.