The journey of Pakistan hockey to glory has begun despite conspiracies at the international level due to growing Indian domination. Positive developments are happening as Pakistan senior hockey team visited New Zealand and Australia. The junior hockey team is also touring Australia these days. It will play, for the first time, in Australia’s national junior championship. After it the players will stay for four months to play for various teams in its league.
PHF has also planned senior hockey team’s visits to Ireland and England before their participation in World Cup qualifying rounds in London in June. A series of three or four tests with Ireland has been finalized. With England it is yet to be decided, says a PHF official.
These two tours will give the final touch to the preparation of the Green-shirts for their qualifying round of World Cup. Pakistan defeated New Zealand 2-1 in their five-test series, which was quite satisfactory as the New Zealanders are ranked 8th in the world.
The PHF chief Brig Khalid Khokhar has expressed satisfaction over the performance of Pakistan senior team in New Zealand and Australia.
He said that that there was no comparison between Pakistan, ranked 14th, and Australia, who are world champions and the top ranked side. “But the Green-shirts’ performance gradually improved in each match in Australia and it could have been much better if they had avoided some mistakes,” he added.
He mentioned that in the last two matches against the Aussies, the Green-shirts played much better than the previous two matches. “Especially in the last match, they scored three goals and took lead against them twice and levelled the score once, which showed their improvement,” he said.
Khokhar mentioned that Pakistan team was playing international hockey after a big gap and a number of junior players had been included in the senior team.
“They were playing against such tough opponents for the first time and that too at their own backyard. So they played satisfactorily,” the PHF president said.
“Our target is qualifying for the World Cup. The qualifying rounds are to be held in June in London. In New Zealand and Australia our players got much-needed experience, which will help them in the qualifying rounds,” he said.
He was confident that Pakistan’s junior hockey team’s Australian tour would also prove beneficial for Pakistan hockey and it would be the best alternative of international matches. Most of the junior players have not played against other top teams.
The PHF president said that Pakistan hockey has been put on the right track. “Our domestic hockey has been strengthened and is day by day getting consolidated.”
He said that domestic hockey is the lifeline to stay alive at the international level.
“Right now our focus is on qualifying for the World Cup 2018,” Khokhar said.
He vowed that Pakistan would qualify for the World Cup and the nation would hear good news in June because “the boys are really doing hard work to achieve the target”.
On the domestic hockey, PHF president said that around 100 players of national senior and junior teams’ training camps had been provided jobs, which was considered one of the main reasons for the decline of hockey in the country. The PHF proved the notion that a hockey player has no stable source of income wrong. The Fauji Foundation has provided jobs to 18 players and two officials. Besides, 20 players and one official have been recruited by ZTBL.
He said that PHF was also talking to SNGPL and OGDCL to develop their hockey teams and participate in domestic tournaments.
So there should be no problem for players who have potential. They will get jobs, assured the PHF chief.
Khokhar mentioned that that since he took charge as president, he had focused on making hockey a viable career option for youngsters.
He said that various domestic hockey teams had been revived and around 100 players who had been part of national and junior teams’ training camps have been provided jobs in departments.
“Now the issue of unemployment of the national level players, both senior and junior, has been resolved. The players should not think that there are no jobs for hockey players in the country,” he said.
He said that the players emerging at the national level in the next couple of years would also be appointed in different departments. “Those who perform well in domestic hockey and are called to Pakistan’s national hockey training camp of any outfit, senior or junior, will not remain jobless,” he said.