ISLAMABAD-Sensate Standing Committee on Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) chairman Senator Mushahidullah Khan has expressed his shock over downfall of national game and expect the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) will take pragmatic steps to take Pakistan hockey back to old glory days.

The meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on IPC was due here at the Parliament House on Monday, but due to non-appearance of committee members, the meeting was postponed and Mushahidullah was given briefing on different sports. IPC minister Riaz Hussain Pirzada, IPC secretary Raja Nadir Ali, PHF secretary Shahbaz Senior, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chief Operating Officer Subhan Ahmed, Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) Director General Dr Akhtar Nawaz Ganjera and others also attended the meeting.

Senator Mushahidullah said in the past, the allocated funds were not utilised properly by the federation. “Only those nations, who pay top most priority to sports, rule the world. It is quite strange that 39 federations are affiliated with the PSB, but only three sports get direct qualification for Olympics, then what other federations have been doing. Why no check and balance system has been followed,” he questioned. He also ordered the PSB to file detailed report in this regard in the next meeting of the committee.

Sharing his views, IPC minister Riaz Pirzada said hockey could not be put on right track through money only, as it needed to be patronised properly and given proper attention. “The government is committed and paying special attention towards hockey promotion and wants it to regain old glory.”

Giving briefing to the committee, PSB Director General Akhtar Ganjera informed about Pakistani contingent’s participation in Rio Olympics and about their performances. “Pakistan used to directly qualify for Olympics in hockey, wrestling and boxing but this time, we couldn’t quality for Rio Olympics directly and participated in some disciplines through wildcard only and hadn’t any realistic hope of winning medal.”

“We all feel the pain and sorrow over Pakistan hockey team failing to qualify for the Rio Olympics and after this debacle, the government had changed the entire leadership of the PHF,” he added.

He said the futsal federation was not affiliated with the PSB and neither was it issued NOC for participation in the international event. “We are looking into the sensitive matter of the chess federation’s participation in international event, as the federation’s issue is in court of law.”

Expressing his utter shock, Mushahidullah asked how was it possible that 39 federations were affiliated with the PSB and only three get direct qualification in Olympics.

PHF secretary Olympian Shahbaz Senior informed the committee that in the past, women hockey was highly ignored and not a single women national hockey championship was organised in the last three years. “As soon as we took over the PHF’s helm of affairs, we not only organised national women championship but also sent national women hockey team for international event in Thailand.”

He admitted that Pakistan couldn’t become Olympic and World hockey champion until all stakeholders didn’t join hands and work collectively for the betterment of hockey. “We don’t have hockey stadiums and neither hostels for the players for accommodation purposes. Only one player in U-18 national team, which participated in Asia U-18 Hockey Championship in Dhaka, Bangladesh, was SSC holder, which is quite embarrassing. We need to give top most priority on education of the players.”

Shahbaz said: “Hockey is now only restricted to Gojra, Peer Mahal, Bahawalpur, Lahore and Peshawar and it is not played on regular basis in any other major city of the country, which is more than alarming. In past, Rawalpindi, Karachi and other densely-populated cities were the nurseries of providing fresh blood to the national team, but now situation is completely different and we are taking steps on war-footings and sending delegations to far-flung areas even to small towns to hunt fresh grassroots level talent and provide them with best available facilities, coaching and groom them and induct them gradually in the national team.”

Expressing his sheer concern, Mushahidullah said: “We have to take drastic steps to ensure Pakistan hockey reclaim lost glory at international level and for this, I offer my all-out backing/support to the PHF.”