islamabad - Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) president Brig (R) Khalid Sajjad Khokhar has rubbished claims made by some quarters that proposed Pakistan Hockey League (PHL) is off saying it is very much on.

Talking to The Nation, Sajjad said: “The matter of the fact is that the PHL is very much on as bidding process is already completed and we are in advance negotiations with different players’ agents. We have planned to bring five international players to each team and the hockey lovers will soon witness international players have been featuring in the PHL.”

He said the vision 2020 was almost implemented. “We have sent a detailed report to the Prime Minister secretariat and wanted finances to implement on different ideas. In past, different academies were working, which were nurseries and providing fresh talent to national team. Now we have made decision to restart five academies at national level and we have made up mind to establish Excellence Academy in Islamabad, which will be highly modern and work on providing top class talent to senior, junior and Pakistan A teams.”

To a query regarding provision of central contracts and jobs to hockey players, Sajjad replied: “We have already started working on that. I have fruitful talks with OGDCL and they have promised to provide jobs to hockey players, while I have also talked with SNGPL and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in this regard. In fact, Shujjat Azeem had promised to provide jobs to our players but as he had resigned, we have to start it all over again.

“As soon as funds situation improves, we will not only offer contracts to the players but also to coaches and other officials. The money, which we manage to collect, is national kitty and believe me, I will spend each and every penny on the players and the national game. I am responsible for well-being of players and I will do it at every cost. I have promise in the past and once again let me assure all, if I feel, I am not delivering what I had promised, I will not hesitate and immediately quit. I am a man of principles and I always want to give something to nation,” he added.

When asked about successful holding of National U-18 Hockey Championship, Sajjad replied: “The way youngsters turned up only in Lahore, where around 400 youth appeared in open trials, is more than enough to show how much youth take interest in hockey. We have also detected a few players from the national championship and we will conduct a camp and give a fair chance to those players, who are over 18 years. They will be utilised for either junior team or Pakistan A team.

“I accept there were few lapses in age scrutiny and we had to compromise as their documents were genuine, but let me assure all, from next time, we would ensure scrutiny of players would be conducted at least a month prior to the start of the event so there should be no confusion and things would go smoothly,” he added.

To a query regarding facilitates at Naseer Bunda Hockey Stadium, Sajjad replied: “The Naseer Bunda Hockey Stadium is the perfect venue for holding all kinds of national level camps. We feel comfortable in Islamabad and I must appreciate the IPC minister, PSB Director General and other relevant persons for taking extraordinary care of players and officials. But one thing, which really irks us and the players, is pathetic condition of astroturf and I hope it will be replaced very soon. We would love to start training camps in Islamabad and Excellence Academy would benefit a great deal from Naseer Bunda track,” Sajjad concluded.