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‘Improved strategy can steer Pakistan hockey out of crisis’

LAHORE: While declaring that blunders were committed in running Pakistan hockey during the past 15 years, newly-appointed associate secretary of the Pakistan Hockey Federation Ayaz Mahmood on Wednesday said with improved strategy and planning the country could regain its position in world hockey.

Former Olympian Ayaz has been appointed as PHF associate secretary on ad hoc basis to run the day-to-day affairs of the federation in place of Shahbaz Ahmed, who resigned as PHF secretary last week.

Talking to reporters here, Ayaz said his mandate was to run PHF’s day-to-day affairs until the approval in this regard was given by the Congress whose meeting would be held within a week.

Ayaz, a gold medallist of the 1984 Los Angles Olympics, said the PHF president retired Brig Khalid Sajjad Khokhar appointed him as associate secretary by following the federation’s constitution, which allows the president to take urgent decisions and then get the approval for those from from the board or Congress.

Interestingly, Ayaz was a member of the national selection committee, headed by Islahuddin Siddiqi, which resigned after Pakistan’s pathetic show at the 2018 World Cup.

When asked whether he had not joined a sinking ship by accepting the PHF post as the federal government presently was not patronising the federation, the former centre-half said as a hockey lover it was better to join the federation at this stage to save it from complete destruction.

“Insha Allah with better planning and improved strategy our hockey will soon come back on the right track,” he said.

Ayaz expressed his willingness to work with all concerned to rescue ailing Pakistan hockey.

“Pakistan has heaps of [hockey] talent; we just have to teach the players about the basics of our own style of hockey and then they can adapt to the techniques of modern hockey too,” Ayaz insisted.

“I admit that we have been doing blunders for the last 15 years but now all hockey lovers have to come out and work together for the betterment of hockey. To achieve this, I am ready to work with both seniors and juniors.”

To a question, the ex-Olympian said there was a need to change the mindset that only a hockey stalwart could prove as best coach and administrator too, noting both were entirely different departments.

Replying to a question as to how Danish Kaleem and Rehan Butt were retained as Pakistan coaches after both had resigned in the backdrop of national squad’s dismal show at the 2018 World Cup,

Ayaz said it was a PHF decision which it had made before he joined the federation. “PHF president [Birg Khokhar] and last secretary Shahbaz Ahmed are in a better position to respond on this,” he said.

Underlining physical fitness and discipline as the two key areas needing improvement, Ayaz categorically said there would be be no compromise in this regard.

On his first day in office, Ayaz said, he was studying documents of the forthcoming Pro Hockey League, adding soon he would sit with the PHF president to take decisions about national team’s preparations.

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