Hockey: Undeterred Greenshirts train on

Pakistan hockey team unaffected by news of scam; coach defends Bajwa's presence.


Fawad Hussain July 24, 2012

KARACHI:


The Pakistan hockey team, the first squad from the country to arrive in England ahead of the Olympics, remained undeterred despite The Sun’s story revealing a fake passport scam that promised fake visas and travel with the country’s Olympics squad to England.


The claims were dismissed by the Pakistan Olympic Association but it was believed to have hurt the morale of the Pakistan side that is taking part in the mega event.

“We are aware of the report  but the matter is of no concern to us,” team coach Khwaja Junaid told The Express Tribune from London.

“We are here on an assignment for which we have been preparing for a long time. We have to remain focused and are doing exactly that. We can’t afford to divert our minds ahead of the challenge.”

Team trains at Riverbank Arena       

Pakistan shifted to the Athletes’ Village on Sunday following a ten-day training camp in Cannock.

Junaid said the team started training on Monday at the Riverbank Arena which will play host to the field hockey discipline.

“We are happy with the facilities. The players are getting good practice on the blue turf.”

‘No tiff between PHF secretary and manager’ 

Meanwhile, Junaid termed the reports of a tiff between Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) Secretary Asif Bajwa and manager and head coach Akhtar Rasool false.

Reports emerged that Rasool threatened to quit after ‘undue interference’ by Bajwa in team matters.

“There is no rift in the camp,” said Junaid before defending Bajwa’s presence with the squad. “It is the responsibility of the secretary to monitor the team’s preparations and other matters pertaining to it.”

A similar situation arose during the 2010 World Cup in New Delhi where the team finished bottom in the 12-team event. Many players complained about Bajwa’s interference and said that he was ‘acting like the head coach’.

Venus eyes Rio 2016

Meanwhile, Venus Williams may be about to become the first American tennis star to feature in four Olympics, but she intends to keep playing until the 2016 Rio Games when she will be 36.

Williams, the singles gold medallist at Sydney in 2000, and doubles winner with Serena in 2000 and 2008 in Beijing, has no intention of calling it quits despite her world ranking having slumped to 69.

“I’m aiming for 2016,” said Venus. “Serena and I both want to play there. I have played a lot of Olympics and to keep adding to them is amazing. I had a great Wimbledon. I was very happy with the results and getting the doubles title. Thankfully I have been able to be a champion here, so I am grateful for that and if I could triumph in the Olympics, that would be even more amazing.” (with additional input from AFP)

Khwaja Junaid

“We are here on an assignment for which we have been preparing for a long time. We have to remain focused and are doing exactly that. We can’t afford to divert our minds ahead of the challenge.”

Venus Williams

“This is the most important Olympics I have ever played. It was definitely a fight to get here. Now I am an Olympian, I am very excited. As soon as I touched down, I just felt all the feelings of being an Olympian.”

Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2012.

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