KARACHI: Fresh from being criticised by former Olympians for the national team’s horrendous performances in the ongoing Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) was slammed some more yesterday when Mian Riaz Husain Pirzada, Federal Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination, joined in on the act.
Pirzada, while talking to The Express Tribune, questioned why the PHF has failed to improve the Greenshirts’ results despite receiving a Rs70 million grant from the government. “We gave the federation a huge amount with the hope that they would revive the national game, but results don’t reflect our investment,” he said.
The minister then took aim at the national team’s shrinking talent pool, which received an intake of just 18 players despite the federation holding open trials all over the country.
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“The federation does not have a larger pool of players even after holding open trials,” said Pirzada. “They just have 35 to 40 players out of which they select a team for every tournament. They will have to increase the pool and select players on merit.”
He also accused the PHF of misusing the allocated funds and threatened to cut off the money supply if the team doesn’t come out of the slump it has been in for years. “Although we are working for the revival of the national sport, if the results don’t improve then we will not release the money earmarked for the federation and instead concentrate on other sports,” he declared.
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In the end, Pirzada directed the federation to organise more matches for the hockey team, especially at home. “They players will only learn if they play more matches. The federation should put their efforts in inviting other nations to Pakistan,” he said. “I am sure that teams will start visiting Pakistan as the law and order situation has now improved.”
After winning the opening match of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup against Canada 3-1, Pakistan crashed out after four straight defeats to New Zealand, Australia, India and Malaysia.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 15th, 2016.
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