ISLAMABAD: Former Olympian and coach national team Shahnaz Sheikh Thursday warned Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) not to even think of withdrawing from inaugural 2019 Hockey Pro League as it can have serious ramifications for national hockey.
“The schedule and venues for the League have been announced and if Pakistan pulls out of the event at this stage, then the formation of entire tournament would be disturbed, and this would convey a very wrong message to the world,” he told APP.
Nine teams will vie in the League, a qualifying event for the 2020 Olympics. The six-month tournament to be played on round-robin format with home and away games will begin later this month and end in June with the top four sides making to the final at the Wagener Stadium in Amstelveen, the Netherlands.
World number 12 Pakistan are scheduled to play their first phase matches of the League early next month, starting with the fixture against world number four Argentina in Buenos Aires on February 2. But according to some media reports the PHF is mulling to withdraw from the event because of the fund crunch.
Shahnaz said that the cash-strapped federation should have thought before announcing its decision to feature in the event as a huge amount was required for participation in that. “At least 300 million rupees are needed to feature in the event as its every match will cost around Rs 30 million.
“Did the PHF not think before conveying its consent to the FIH for sending the national team for the League? It will be naïve now to say that you can’t send the team as you don’t have the money. The issue should have been deliberated upon in the PHF executive board before announcing to participate in the event,” he said.
Shahnaz said he would not hold responsible a single person for taking such a strange decision. “I believe the entire PHF body is responsible for the thoughtless attitude. I’m unable to understand on what basis the decision was taken to participate in the League.
“Firstly, you don’t have the money for participation in the event. Secondly, you are preparing a new outfit and you believe it is going to beat world’s top teams to qualify for the Olympics.”
He said India decided not to take part in the competition despite the fact that their federation had sufficient funds as well as a better side. “They (India) chose to stay away from the event as they estimated the chances of qualifying for the Olympics to be higher when participating in the Hockey Series where they will play lower-ranked teams”, he said.
Shahnaz asked the government to provide necessary funds for Pakistan team’s participation in the League but before that dissolve the current PHF body. “This federation did not ask the government when it decided to chip in the event.
I will request the government to appoint a new management, which should honour the commitment for participation in the League as it is a matter of respect of the country,” he added.
More than 20 venues in 11 countries have been selected across the world in a bid to ensure that fans everywhere can experience world-class hockey. The teams scheduled to take part in the event include Pakistan, Australia, Argentina, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, England, Spain and New Zealand.