PHF woos former players to revive Hockey in Pakistan

Karachi: The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has managed to woo back some of its disgruntled former stalwarts as it announced a new set up for the national senior and junior teams in a bid to revive the sport in the country and relive glory days at the world level.

The PHF executive board unanimously appointed former Olympian, Islahuddin Siddiqui as the chief selector while another former great, Shahnaz Sheikh was named as the head coach and manager of the senior team.

Former defender and Olympian, Manzur ul Hasan will be head coach and manager of the national junior team.

The PHF also named several other former Olympians as members of the national selection committee or on the senior and junior team managements.

Pakistan hockey which once ruled world hockey has hit rock bottom in recent times and last year for the first time Pakistan failed to qualify for the World Cup.

A bigger blow is the failure of the national team to take part in the Commonwealth Games owing to the tussle between the parallel national Olympic bodies.

There is also a big question mark over whether Pakistan will be able to participate in the Asian Games.

The PHF this year also decided against sending its team for the Azlan Shah tournament in Malaysia owing to financial constraints.

"We are making efforts to draw on the experience of our former greats and we feel now Pakistan hockey can only be revived through the collective efforts of the hockey community," PHF secretary, Rana Mujahid told a news conference in Lahore.

Mujahid also said that a conciliatory committee would continue to work and bring back remaining former Olympians who are unhappy with the PHF back into the fold.

Former Olympians and internationals, Ayaz Mehmood, Khalid Bashir, Musaddiq and Arshad Ali Chaudhary will work with Islahuddin on the national selection committee while Nasir Ali, Malik Shafqat, Sameer Hussain and Abuzar Umrao will assist Shahnaz in the senior team.

Mujahid said former Olympian Tahir Zaman has been appointed as Director Coaching Program who would also work for the improvement of the game.

The most interesting aspect of today`s meeting was the presence of former captain and celebrated Olympian, Shahbaz Ahmed who later also attended the press conference in a show of solidarity with the federation.

Mujahid also said that the PHF was still hopeful that a bilateral series with India would be possible after the elections in India.