LAHORE-The top officials of the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) have graciously declined the invitation of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) to attend the hockey event at 2016 Rio Olympics.

“FIH sent an official invitation to the PHF president Brigadier (retired) Khalid Sajjad Khokhar and me to watch the hockey competition of the Rio Olympics as FIH guests (but we refused),” said PHF secretary Shahbaz Ahmad Senior while talking to APP.

Former Pakistan captain said they declined the invitation due to the non-participation of the national hockey team which failed to qualify for the event. He added that there was no valid justification for them to fly to Rio and witness the Olympics hockey competition.

“It is quite unfortunate that our team could not qualify for the Olympics first time in the history of the game and without our team’s participation it is not appropriate to attend such a grand event,” said Shahbaz.

However, he praised the kind gesture of the FIH for inviting them. He further rued that it is a painful moment for Pakistan hockey that the team is not able to feature in the Olympics.

“Keeping in view our current low world ranking and failure to qualify for the Olympics we have re-launched sincere efforts to lift the game out of present gloom,” he said, adding that by taking drastic measures, we will ensure that our team puts up a show in the next Asian Games to qualify for 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Shahbaz said PHF is laying special emphasis on the grooming of the national junior team to strengthen the base of the game and to prepare a side which is capable of qualifying for the Junior World Cup.

He feels junior players will them make their mark in the senior team to inspire it.