ISLAMABAD - Newly-appointed Pakistan hockey team head coach Shahnaz Shaikh has admitted that he doesn't have any magical lamp to turn the fortunes of the national team overnight, but promised to put the team on right path in short span of time.
Talking to The Nation on Saturday, Shahnaz said that the youngsters were given too much time to change the fortunes of the national hockey team, but they failed to provide satisfactory results and that was the main reason, the PHF top brass decided to hand over the reins of the national team to a very senior person.
“We have decided to give top priority to grassroots level hockey and promote club hockey, which will provide us fresh talent. We will conduct trials at five different venues from April 22 to unearth promising talent and their training camp will be established at Naseer Bunda Hockey Stadium from May 3 which will continue for five weeks. Then it will be shifted to Abbottabad before embarking on European tour,” he stated.
“Then we will again set up last phase of the training camp at Sialkot for the prestigious Asian Games where we are defending champions. We are fully aware of the fact about the significance of retaining the title which will provide us direct entry into Olympics, otherwise, we have to play qualifying round for Olympics. I am dead sure we have still a lot of time left to prepare winning combination,” the ex-Olympian added.
To a query regarding joining hands with Akhtar Rasool and co, Shahnaz replied: “Akhtar Rasool visited our residences to for our cooperation in lifting the declining standard of Pakistan hockey. We discussed in detail with our friends before deciding to join hands with the federation. Samiullah also endorsed our decision, but we don't know why he backed off. The decision of joining hands with the PHF was made in the best interest of hockey, as opportunists around Akhtar Rasool could have eight more years to destroy Pakistan hockey.”
When asked about sorry state of affairs of Shahnaz Shaikh Hockey Stadium, where Punjab government spent millions of rupees on its construction from the national kitty but he failed to start any hockey activity and producing even local level team from there, then on what grounds, he accepted national hockey team coaching assignment, Shahnaz stated: “We were waiting for laying down of astroturf at Shahnaz Shaikh Hockey Stadium and now PC-I worth Rs 90.75 million has been approved. The laying down of astroturf will start from July this year and then we will start full-fledged activities at the venue and people will witness different teams in action. We will also produce some quality players from there who will represent the country at international level and win glory for the country.”