ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) President Brig (R) Khalid Sajjad Khokhar has confirmed that the federation has paid the first installment of the fine imposed on it by FIH and now national hockey team is clear to play international events, including Olympics qualifiers.

Talking to The Nation, Khokhar said: “The PHF has arranged the first installment through its own resources, as the federal government didn’t pay a single penny in this regard. I am grateful to FIH for paying heed towards our genuine problem and all the disciplinary committee members for being very kind and cooperative.

“We never wanted to invite FIH wrath nor our past had any such issue, but due to previous IPC Secretary Jameel Ahmed, not only Pakistan hockey, but also the country could have suffered a lot, but the PHF’s efforts saved the country from international ban. We were also allowed to pay a minimal fine in three installments and now we have paid first installment. We will either try to get wave off in the remaining two installments or get further reduction in fine,” he added.

He said he is requesting the federal government and the IPC Minister for last several months to have mercy on hockey. “The government and IPC Minister shouldn’t hand over the funds to the federation directly; instead they can spend money through their own appointed persons. We want to take Pakistan hockey forward, as the national game had suffered a lot in the past.

“Ever since I took over the reins of the federation, I have utilised all my capabilities and personal contacts to ensure Pakistan hockey stand on its feet and also focused on junior hockey to find fresh talent to represent the country and win laurels for it. We gave chances to youngsters against visiting Uzbekistan national hockey team and rather than putting our senior team to play against the visitors. We provided opportunities to the youngsters, which paid great dividend as we found fresh talent, which were also given chance in the recently-concluded 65th Muhammad Noor Khan National Hockey Championship in Karachi,” he added.

Khokhar said now the goalkeeping camp for the aspiring goalkeepers will start form August 19 under Shahid Ali Khan, while 35 players are invited for the national camp to be started from August 25 at National Hockey Stadium, Lahore. “The basic purpose of conducting the camp is to prepare our team for the coming Olympics qualifiers. We have kept an eye on the South Asian Games as well.

“We have taken Olympians onboard and will try to implement all their suggestions/recommendations in true letter and spirit. Our aim is to take Pakistan hockey forward. It doesn’t matter we are standing at 17 in FIH rankings. Once Pakistan hockey starts settling down and producing results, it will jump at the considerable pace in the FIH rankings,” he added.

The PHF president said that he didn’t demand anything from Prime Minister Imran Khan and IPC Minister Dr Fahmida Mirza. “I just want the PM and IPC Minister to come forward and play their part in reviving the national game. Without money, we can neither take part in international events nor can conduct national championships.

“I am sure that our PM and IPC Minister, who both are athletes themselves, will lend a helping hand to the federation and in return, I can assure that Pakistan hockey will bounce back and win major titles like they did in the past. I have full faith and belief in my team and we are keen to deliver for Pakistan and its hockey,” Khokhar concluded.