The under-fire Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has announced that a World XI would tour the country from January 10 next year as a first step towards revival of international hockey in the country.
PHF president Brig. Khalid Sajjad Khokhar told a media conference in Islamabad that the government has given clearance for the World XI tour, which also has the support of the International Hockey Federation (IHF).
“The situation is gradually changing and we are confident that after the World XI tours Pakistan, it will also pave the way open for foreign players to take part in our hockey league that we plan to launch sometime in 2018,” he said.
Without revealing details about the composition of the World XI or where they would play matches, Khokhar said the PHF was now on the lookout for sponsors and to sell broadcasting rights of the matches.
He said that India has become a high profile hockey nation after hosting several FIH events while, in comparison, Pakistan had been deprived of international events at home because of security concerns.
“A lot of critics talk about Indian hockey but they forget that a lot of money has been channelled into Indian hockey in recent years by private and state sponsors and the Indian hockey league has been a big boost for them,” he said.
Khokhar also said that the PHF had already done its homework to ensure the national senior team got visas to participate in the World Cup next year in India.
Meanwhile, on recent criticism over the national team’s poor show in the Asia Cup and a four-nation invitational event in Australia, Khokhar said: “We are sincere about reviving hockey as our national sport and we need time.”
Khokhar ruled out removing former captain Shahbaz Ahmed as secretary, who is facing allegations of financial mismanagement to the tune of 220 million rupees.
He said that the PHF accounts are audited and they would also be sent to the Auditor General of Pakistan.
“I myself hate corruption of misuse of funds given to the federation. All those who are talking about financial mismanagement are free to come and inspect our audited accounts,” Khokhar said.