Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) is still awaiting the No Objection Certificate (NOC) from its government to send its national squad for the Junior Hockey World Cup, to be held in Lucknow from December 8.
PHF secretary Shahbaz Ahmed told the media on Tuesday that the Federation had applied for the clearance and NOC from the Ministry of Inter-Provincial coordination and Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) three weeks ago.
“The ministry and PSB have taken up the matter with the foreign ministry and concerned authorities. We are confident that we will get the clearance to participate in the event in India,” Ahmed said.
He conceded that ongoing tensions between the two countries and the daily cross border incidents were a matter of concern.
“…We have taken part in many FIH events in India in recent years whatever the political climate and generally have not faced issues in India,” insisted Ahmed.
Pakistan team has appeared in the FIH men’s World Cup, Commonwealth Games, South Asian Federation Games and the Champions Trophy on India soil since 2010.
Last January, the PHF had sent its hockey team as part of the Pakistan contingent for the SAF Games in India.
“In existing circumstances it is mandatory for us to get clearance and approval from the government to participate in any event in India,” he said.
The former Pakistan captain and Olympian said that the PHF would have to abide by whatever directions came from the government.
“The Junior World Cup is very important for the future of our hockey set-up as we need to test the new talent in a major tournament and majority of these players will be front runners to play in the senior team in the World Cup qualifying tournament next year,” he said.
Ahmed pointed out that the two matches played in the Asian Champions Trophy in Malaysia recently between Pakistan and India were competitive in nature.
“Both teams played hard but in good sporting spirit which is good for everyone,” he said.
Ahmed said he was satisfied that in both matches, Pakistan had fought hard before going down to the arch-rivals.
“We are presently ranked 13th in the world while India is 6th so we need to understand we have some catching up to do with other nations that is why the Junior World Cup is significant for our hockey,” he said.
The Junior World Cup will feature teams from 16 nations — Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Egypt, England, Germany, India, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, South Africa, New Zealand, Pakistan and Spain.
Pakistan is placed alongside Netherlands, Belgium and Egypt in Pool B.