ISLAMABAD    -    Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) President Brig (R) Khalid Sajjad Khohkar has confirmed that the 65th Air Marshal (Late) Muhammad Nur Khan National Hockey Championship 2019 has been postponed and will be held after holy month of Ramazan.

Talking to The Nation, Khokhar said: “The National Hockey Championship dates have been changed due to Uzbekistan hockey team’s visit to Pakistan, which commences from April 17. We want to prepare our development squads to get more talent, as all know that mega events are coming thick and fast, including the Olympics qualifiers and we need fresh blood to prepare our future squads.”

He rubbished the claims made by some quarters that the federation lacks direction and keep on changing dates of different events, including the proposed tour of Poland national hockey team. “The PHF wants to do things perfectly. Polish team has cancelled the tour not because of security or any other issue but they just wanted to change the dates. They are most likely to tour Pakistan in August before the Olympics qualifiers, which will likely be held in September as the final dates and venue is yet to be announced by the FIH.

“The matter of the fact is that it would be blessing in disguise for Pakistan hockey team, as after Poland series, green shirts will embark on Olympics qualifiers and by that time, we would have managed a lot of youngsters through first Uzbekistan series and then National Hockey Championship,” he added.

Khokhar said: “We have written to the FIH regarding non-participation in Pro-Hockey League and they are positive about our genuine reply. They have referred Pakistan’s case to disciplinary committee and we are hopeful about the decision will be in Pakistan’s favour.

“One must understand the ground realities as the PHF needs money to conduct the national championship. Thanks to Sindh Chief Minister and Pakistan Air Force for their support for the national game. We need fresh talent that’s why we have decided to field development squads, which will help the federation and country in the longer perspective.

“I have time and again mentioned that I don’t want to cling on to the president slot. If I can’t deliver, I will relinquish the post. I am surprised that some certain elements, who were given assignments by the PHF and they failed to come up with even ordinary results, are talking about change in the federation. I want to know why they don’t work and come up with plans without holding some kind of offices,” he added.

The PHF chief said that the federation didn’t receive a single-penny’s financial assistance from the federal government, nor from the PSB, even then they are running the PHF’s affairs and striving to take Pakistan hockey forward. “I have time and again requested Prime Minister Imran Khan to spare some time for the national game and have a meeting with us.

“I have also offered the government not to give us a single penny but utilize funds properly and spend money through their own means, but let hockey flourish in the country. The PM’s personal interest will mean a lot for the revival of hockey and it will put new lease of life in our efforts to take Pakistan hockey to new heights,” Khokhar concluded.