Olympians hopeful of PHF overhaul

Karachi: Although Interprovincial Coordination Minister Riaz Pirzada didn’t turn up at the scheduled meeting with former Olympians here in Karachi on Sunday, but the former players are hopeful that the government would take some concrete steps to bring hockey back on track.

Pirzada was expected in Karachi on Sunday morning but, according to former Olympian Shahnaz Sheikh, his flight from Islamabad first delayed and then cancelled due to some technical issues with the flight.

“Pirzada has told us that he would come to Karachi as soon as possible within the next few days. The flight he was to travel in was cancelled and he told us that he has a meeting with Prime Minister in the evening so he couldn’t come to Karachi on Sunday,” Shahnaz told PPI.

However, Shahnaz said that the meeting would take place as the government has taken notice of our protests and complains against the incompetent Pakistan Hockey Federation PHF. “Yes we are hopeful that the government would take action against the federation especially after Hockey World League debacle.”

Although ranked to secure third place in Hockey World League and its berth in World Cup 2014, World No 5 Pakistan came seventh – below 16th ranked Japan in the event.

Shahnaz said that the former Olympians including Islahuddin, Samiullah, Qamar Ibrahim and many others would brief the minister about the performance of the current setup of PHF.

“There are around 20 Olympians and many other former hockey players with us who are deeply shocked by the fact that the greenshirts are facing difficulty in qualifying for the World Cup. We knew that the standards of hockey were falling in the country since the present setup took and we all were concerned about the future of the national sport but now facing qualification problems for World Cup has made us all deeply concerned and it is now time to take action,” Shahnaz said.

Shahnaz lamented the fact that no action was taken against the federation when Olympians protested after Pakistan ended at bottom rock 12th position in World Cup 2010.

“One can notice the steady falling performance graph of greenshirts. In 2010 we came 12th in the 12team World Cup event and now we are facing qualification problems. If our complains had been heard two years back then we wouldn’t have been facing such a humiliating situation.

“However, political backing of the present PHF officials has kept them in office in spite of the fact that their incompetence and lack of vision was exposed back in 2010,” he added.

He said that the present setup of the federation has been the most privileged ever as it received massive funds, which no other setup ever got, and they also had the time of around five years to establish.

“They PHF top brass had the two most important resources – time and money. But they failed to give good results because of lack of competence and honesty,” Shahnaz said.

Pakistan must clinch title in next month’s Asia Cup in order to earn ticket for World Cu 2014 to be held in Holland.

However, apart from Pakistan, other Asian powerhouses – India, South Korea and Malaysia would also be eyeing the title to find their berth in the World Cup.