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Bajwa vows to improve Pakistan’s hockey fortunes

KARACHI: The newly-appointed secretary of the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) Asif Bajwa has vowed to resurrect national team in phases and offered himself for accountability from day one of his second tenure.

Read: Pakistan Hockey Federation’s Shahbaz Senior says he didn’t resign

“It’s a big challenge and I’ve accepted it in larger interest of the game,” Bajwa, who had served in similar role with former presidents retired Gen Aziz, Qasim Zia and Akhtar Rasool from 2008 to 2013 told reporters in a press conference at the Abdul Sattar Edhi Hockey Stadium on Wednesday.

He disclosed that he will be meeting PHF president retired Brig Khalid Sajjad Khokhar on Thursday and will decide to convene Executive Board and Congress meetings next week which is mandatory to get the nod.

He said during his last tenure the Greenshirts were ranked fifth in the world and alarmingly they have slipped to 12th place.

Outlining his plans Bajwa said he will carry along all stakeholders to improve the domestic structure and will meet all the provincial chief ministers to seek their financial support for the national game.

Continuing his policy statement he said it is need of the hour to restructure the PHF by devolving powers and strengthening the institution which is working since 1947. “It’s unfortunate that every time when a change at the helm occurs, we’ve to start from scratch,” he lamented.

In this connection, he cited examples of Holland, Germany and Australia where change of guards doesn’t affect the system and policies continue.

Bajwa said in future PHF platform will not be used for mud-slinging of former Olympians and termed them as ‘jewels’.

Referring to the national hockey championship said it would be revived at an appropriate time perhaps after summer besides overcoming other backlogs.

“Hockey will be made a marketable product to attract sponsorship,” he added.

Answering a question about reports of alleged corruption of funds by his predecessor in connivance with the incumbent president he said: “Wait for the forensic report which is being conducted by the government”.

He was full of praise for Shahbaz Ahmed despite the fact that Shahbaz has said he has not resigned and disclosed that the PHF chief had himself carried out special audit of the PHF accounts.

“We have to pay hefty fine to the FIH that it had imposed for failing to compete in Pro Hockey League after confirmation,” he said.

Asked about the hot issue of parallel Karachi Hockey Association (KHA) he said he will try to resolve the issue amicably. “I’m in touch with both the factions and a way out will be found,” he added.

He went on to say that the PHF will start its pro league that couldn’t light of the day during his predecessor’s tenure.

Citing an example of the PCB whose earnings are enormous, he said no cricketer debates about financial issues in public while it’s vice-versa in hockey.

“During my last tenure I ensured that everyone from team officials, players, staff and trainees of 18 academies got their salaries on time,” he remarked.

When pressed he said he had left some Rs140m in PHF’s kitty at the end of his first assignment and today there’s only 0.7m in its account.

He said Pakistan last won the Asia Cup three decades back in 1989 on Indian soil at Delhi and no one has thought that once minnows Belgium and Argentina will scale new heights at Olympics and World Cup.

He said the road to 2020 Tokyo Olympics is extremely difficult and efforts would be made that Pakistan compete in pre-qualifiers in order to become eligible for qualifying round.

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