ISLAMABAD       -   Pakistan hockey’s emerging star Khubaib Ahmed has said that he is ready to serve the national team and wants to help it win back lost glory.

In an interview with The Nation, 18-year-old Khubaib said: “It was my dream to play hockey for national team and I am almost there. I am knocking at the senior hockey team’s doors and I am sure time is not far, when I will be wearing the national senior team kit and representing the country at international level.

“I have played for Pakistan Emerging team against Uzbekistan national hockey team and also took part in the 65th Noor Khan National Hockey Championship in Karachi. I am playing at junior level and just now, I have represented Punjab in the 33rd National Games hockey event in Peshawar, winning bronze medal for my team. It was a great experience to play alongside renowned and established players, who have played for the national team. Playing against the country’s top professional players was also very exciting and learning experience for me,” he added.

The youngster said he is grateful to Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) President Brig (R) Khalid Sajjad Khokhar, who is providing ample opportunities to the juniors in very limited resources. He is always very helpful and his support and guidance give us huge boost and lift our morale. “I must especially thank Shahbaz Senior for his personal efforts and his involvement with hockey. He gave me lot of tips, as I played at almost all the positions, so he always called me a versatile player and dubbed me as future of Pakistan hockey.

“In the National Games, I played as centre half, right in, left back and played up front as well. The way Punjab hockey team was prepared in such a short time, credit must be given to Punjab Hockey Association (PbHA) Secretary Col (R) Arif Naz and his entire team. Our team management and coaches all worked very hard and we played like one unit. It was only lack of exposure, which deprived us of playing for gold medal,” he added.

Khubaib said it would be highly injustice if he doesn’t recognise the services rendered by PbHA Secretary Col Asif, who is a fatherly figure for all of us and takes personal interest and spends lot of time in the field and interacts with each and every player. “We badly need such statesmen, who know the ABC of hockey and especially about the upcoming players.”

PHF President Brig Khokhar has great knowledge about hockey and he remains with hockey team in different capacities. “Brig Khokhar is the best man to take Pakistan hockey forward. It is very disturbing that the team has failed to qualify for 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but I seriously feel that the PHF president and entire PHF management along with players gave their best. We were unlucky as after playing so well in the first qualifier against Netherlands, we failed to carry forward the momentum in the next match, but nevertheless, we are on right track and time is not far, when the youngsters like me would be able to play for the national team and help it climb back to the top,” he asserted.

He said hockey is his passion and his father and entire family fully support him. “I would like to say a big thanks to my family, supporters and especially the PHF for providing us a strong platform, where we get chances and our achievements are highlighted. I am hungry to serve Pakistan hockey for the years to come and want to play key role in helping the team win all the major titles again,” Khubaib concluded.

Sharing his views, PbHA Secretary Col Asif lauded Khubaib and other youngsters and described them future of Pakistan hockey. “Khubaib is highly committed and I never saw him down. He always loves to contribute in any given role, that’s why he is getting regular chances for Punjab and he will soon be playing for the national team.”