LAHORE - Pakistan Hockey team chief manager and coach Chaudhary Akhtar Rasool has said that Pakistan team will get much needed practice and training at the blue turf for its participation in the Azlan Shah Cup in March in Ipoh, Malaysia.

“We will be starting training at the newly laid blue plastic surface later this month and we are confident that our team will be fully prepared in all aspects prior to its participation in Azlan Shah Cup,” he said here on Thursday.

The former Pakistan captain said the year 2013 was very important for Pakistan hockey as the team would be preparing for next year’s World Cup to be held in June in Holland. “We will be playing a lot of international hockey during the ongoing year and it will be beneficial for our training programme for the build up of the team for the Cup,” he said.

“After playing in Azlan Shah, our team will be taking part in the World League in Holland in June,” he added.

He said the world’s top teams would take part in Azlan Shah and World League and participation in these two event would enhance the experience of the players.

Rasool said Pakistan team ended its campaign during the last year on a confident note by winning the Asian Champions Trophy and now the stage has come to maintain the flow of success by putting in more hard work and efforts.

“As chief manager and coach, I am under heavy load of responsibility as we are not only preparing the team but also selecting our teams which have made the task tough and challenging,” he stated.

The team official said with the laying of blue turf at Lahore famous national stadium Pakistan hockey would further grow as most the elite hockey events around the world are being played on this surface. “We are thankful to Punjab government especially Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif for extending help to install blue turf and patronizing hockey by announcing cash incentives for Pakistan team for its recent achievements and we strongly believe that it will give a big boost to the ongoing efforts of Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) for the revival of the game,” the former Olympian added.

He said Pakistan team was developing a culture of success and it was hoped that it would maintain it by showing productive results in the coming events.

“We have almost 16 to 17 months for our participation in the World Cup and the PHF has chalked out a comprehensive plan for the training of the team,” he said. To a query, he said that politics should not be mixed with sports and efforts should be made to maintain true spirit of game. “The protest of Hindu activists party Shiv Sinha was unfortunate and it spoiled the participation of Pakistan players in Hockey India League,” he added.

He urged the Hockey India authorities to take drastic measures to stop the happening of such incidents in future otherwise it will bring negative impact on hockey ties between Pakistan and India. “Pak-India bilateral hockey series are beneficial for the hockey of both the countries and it is in the larger interest of the game that politics should not be mixed in these events,” the head coach concluded.