LAHORE-A number of former Pakistan hockey captains, Olympians and international players Monday called for immediate change in the present setup of Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) to lift the national sport out of gloom.

In what turned out to be country hockey history’s first ever assembling of that large number of stalwarts of the game at one platform appeared a collective effort to safeguard future of the game in which Pakistan has lost its repute and supremacy as a top notch hockey country.

Four former hockey captains Dr Tariq Aziz, Manzoor Junior, Hanif Khan and Kh Mohammad Junaid and Olympians including former PHF Secretary Col (r) Mudassar Asghar, Rao Salim Nazim, Naveed Alam, Khalid Bashir, M Saqlain and former international Haider Rasool and president Sindh Hockey Association Dr Junaid Ali Shah participated in a ‘hockey forum’ here at Lahore Press Club and requested Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is patron-in-chief of PHF, to remove the present officials of the PHF in the larger interest of the game.

It is interesting that many of these ex-Olympians have remained part of the PHF in the past but hockey’s fortune never changed. Even some of these players also remained part of the current PHF set up before they were shown doors.

Speaking on the occasion, they pointed out deep rooted corruption, non-professional approach, unconstitutional acts and wrong polices of the present regime reasons behind hockey’s downfall.

They alleged that Rs 100 million grant, which was given time-to-time to the PHF by the government in recent years, was hugely misappropriated and was spent on non-hockey activities and the game was badly suffered and now its future hangs in balance.

“Pakistan hockey team, which once was force to reckon with at the highest level of the game by possessing the entire major hockey titles, is now a place shadow of its glittering past which is evident from its low world’s number 14 ranking,” they said.

They said the PHF funds were spent on joyrides and on the pretext of holding of hockey camps, which failed to serve any purpose as no junior or U16, U18, U20 teams were formed so much so no sincere effort, was made to groom the national senior team which showed dismal performance in all the international events it participated in recent years.

They called for conducting a special audit in the PHF to determine the facts how the funds were spent and despite receiving handsome grant in recent years why the game had a nose dive trend. “The PM himself is a sportsman and we appeal to him to look into the present hockey crisis and to appoint right people for the right job,” they said in a joint resolution at the forum.  The former captains, Olympians and internationals said those, who destroyed the national game, be held responsible and bring to justice. At the end of the forum, a large number of hockey children holding placards and banners staged a peaceful assembly in the premises of the Lahore Press Club.