ISLAMABAD   -  Shahbaz Senior, earned another distinction for Pakistan, as he becomes the Federation of International Hockey (FIH) executive board member, after securing 63 votes out of 110, in the general elections held in New Delhi on Saturday.

While talking exclusively to The Nation from Delhi a clearly satisfied Shahbaz said: “It is indeed huge honour not only for me but for entire hockey community and Pakistan. I am humbled and looking forward to help not only Pakistan hockey but also the world hockey as well. I required 57 votes for victory while both my opponents German and Belgian opponents were not only highly strong but also enjoying Europeans backing as well. By the grace of Almighty, I received 63 votes and beat Belgian for the seat.”

Shahbaz thanked all those who voted for him and even to those, who didn’t voted in his favour and assured all the hockey community, being representative of all he would play his due role to ensure hockey once again get same popularity and will use every way and mean to ensure youth take interest towards playing hockey and take it as profession like cricket and other sports.

“It is high time, we must bring revolutionary changes and adopt means to ensure hockey at international stage get same recognition the other sports are enjoying. Over the years drastic changes have been introduced and even the top super stars’ kids are not interested in playing hockey. It is not a good sing and in fact these are alarming signs for this wonderful sport. I will sit with all the greats and will try to persuade them to ensure their kids start to divert their attentions towards hockey.”

Shahbaz said: “It was wonderful occasion to meet past greats and top officials of the FIH. We had some wonderful, lengthy discussions and soon all the hockey playing nations will reap benefits. They all were united for supporting Pakistan hockey in best possible manner and let me share that it was highly defining moment as far as Pakistan hockey is concerned and their support means a lot to back our efforts to take Pakistan hockey back to old glory days heights.”

“They all were surprised that despite acute shortage of funds, lack of sufficient pool of players, Pakistan Hockey Federation is doing wonders. They were full of praise for PHF President Brig (R) Khalid Sajjad Khokhar’s personal efforts for ensuring green shirts participation in mega events and assured they will do whatever they can to help federation in general and Pakistan in particular.”

“I request Prime Minister Imran Khan to order immediate release of funds for the PHF as we already owe a lot to private persons. The World Cup is hardly few days away and we have to clear dues, made payments to vendors and also start training camp for the world cup-bound Pakistani contingent. For how long the PHF president has to arrange funds through his personal contacts? It is time, realising the ground realities and without any delays, government must release funds so federation could focus on implementing plans, ways and means to take Pakistan hockey on right track. I am sure, the PM will take notice of the present situation of national game and order the release of at least Rs100 million to bail-out hockey,” Shahbaz concluded.