PHF sacks Dutchman Heuvel as national team coach

Lahore: The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) on Thursday sacked Dutchman Michel Van Den Heuvel as its foreign coach and handed over the charge of the national team to Olympian Khawaja Junaid.

The decision to sack Heuvel was taken at PHF`s executive committee meeting held at the National hockey stadium here.

Apart from replacing Heuvel with Junaid, the PHF also appointed another Olympian Akhtar Rasool as the manager of the senior national team.

PHF president Qasim Zia justified the federations`s decision to sack Heuvel, insisting that the Dutchman had violated the terms and conditions of his contract.

"We had no option but to change the coach because Van Den Heuvel has refused to attend the training camp of the probables for the Olympics underway in Islamabad and also signed a contract with a Dutch club without informing us," he said.

Zia pointed out that as per the terms and conditions of his contract, Heuvel first had to give the right of refusal to the PHF once his contract ended after the London Olympics.

"He signed the new contract without taking us into confidence although he says he will only start his new assignment after the Olympic Games," the PHF president said.

He said Heuvel had also upset the preparations of the national probables by not attending the camp.

The PHF hired the foreign coach 18 months back and under his supervision Pakistan won the gold medal at the Asian Games last year for the first time in 20 years and also beat Australia in an invitational tournament in their own backyard.

Meanwhile, on the issue of whether to ban the Pakistani players participating in the unofficial World Series Hockey, Zia said any decision on this matter would be taken by the disciplinary committee of the federation.

"We want to give an opportunity to the players who have gone for the World Series Hockey to give their point of view before the disciplinary committee before any action is decided against them," Zia said.

He also made it clear that any decision on the players would be taken in accordance with the guidelines of the International Hockey Federation (FIH).