ISLAMABAD: In a highly upsetting development for the national sport, the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) owing to what it describes alarming shortage of funds has wrapped up national team’s training camp set up for the 2016 Olympic qualifiers.
The one-month camp had been in progress here at the Naseer Bunda Hockey Stadium. However, due to paucity of funds and poor state of the venue, the PHF ended the camp on Thursday, 10 days before the scheduled time.
“The camp has been postponed in view of the bitter fact that the PHF has no funds to pay daily allowance to the participating players. We will review our financial condition in the coming days and then will decide whether to continue the camp,” PHF secretary Rana Mujahid said.
A source in the PHF said besides the financial crunch, the Astro Turf of the Naseer Bunda Hockey Stadium was not fit for the game as eight players got injuries.
After funds were arranged the camp would likely be set up at the Johar Town Hockey Ground in Lahore from April 10, he added.
Despite knowing well the importance of the camp for the players preparing for the Olympic qualifiers, Mujahid regretted that the PHF was left with no other option but to end it.
“The closure of the camp will not only badly affect the players’ preparation, it will also be considered a great setback to the national game which won silver medals in the Asian Games and the Champions Trophy last year,” he lamented.
It is relevant to note here that a cash-strapped PHF has been striving to get a chance to meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the PHF patron. However, so far, the prime minister could not spare time for the meeting from his busy schedule. So far, four scheduled meetings of the prime minister with the players and the PHF have been postponed.
“The players are disappointed, for we were expecting to meet the prime minister and that he will order for an immediate release of funds to prepare the team for the international events. Let alone international events, now we have no funds to run training camps,” he said with a depressed voice.
“By utilising borrowed money we tried to run the camp but now the borrowed money has [also] ended,” Mujahid said, adding that despite having minimum resources the team produced brilliant performance at the Asian Games and the Champions Trophy.
It is instructive to note here that the PHF last year moved a summary to the prime minister for the release of a bailout package of Rs500 million but the matter remained unattended, lying either in the Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC) Ministry or the Prime Minister’s Office.
Meanwhile, a senior national player, commenting on the bleak scenario for hockey, said people at the helm of affairs had been making mockery of the national game.
“We are very disappointed, this is a sad day for us as our camp has been closed due to financial constraint,” the player, who requested anonymity, said.
Talking to Dawn, national team head coach Shahnaz Sheikh said financial crisis as well as poor condition of the ground had forced PHF to close the camp.
“The government should immediately release the bail-out package to keep the national game alive,” the head coach appealed, whose hard work produced impressive results at the Asiad and the Champions Trophy.
Shahnaz said if provided with the required budget, the current lot of players had the potential to fare much better in contests anywhere in the world.
On April 28, he added, the team would leave for Australia to feature in a four-nation tournament. Then, after returning home, the team will head to Korea on May 14. While, on June 5, the team will leave for Europe to play six test matches against the US, Ireland and France.
Then finally, the green-shirts will play the Olympic qualifying round in Belgium from June 20. Ten teams, including Pakistan, Australia, India, Malaysia and Belgium will participate in the qualifiers.
Commenting on the Astro Turf at the Naseer Bunda Hockey Stadium, the coach confirmed that during the first 18 days of training at least eight players got injuries due to the poor state of the turf.
Shahnaz said due to slippery and hard condition of the turf the players suffered injuries. “We have taken up this issue with the Pakistan Sports Board,” he said.
When contacted, DG Technical PSB Akhtar Nawaz Ganjera said efforts were being made to repair the turf.
Nov 15, 2017 0
The 68th Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China.
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