ISLAMABAD - President Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) Brig (r) Khalid Sajjad Khokhar yesterday said Pakistan Junior hockey performance in Malaysia was beyond expectations but said patience is needed to turn the fortunes of Pakistan hockey.

Pakistan juniors failed to win a single match in the 5th Sultan of Johor Junior Hockey Tournament recently held in Johor Bahru in Malaysia.

Talking to The Nation, Brig (r) Khalid said new PHF administration should not be judged over this event as they had very little time to prepare a team for the event after overtaking the federation.

“I didn't waste any time and started juniors training camp after conducting open trials,” he added. The PHF president also admitted flaws in selection but denied the alleged selection of team from a certain club.

“We need some time before we start to produce results as three or four weeks camps are not enough to participate in international events. The team practiced at Army hockey stadium in Rawalpindi, which was not enough and they also didn't get even get practice matches prior to the start of the event.” He said the junior hockey was being neglected for the past one year and they are to raise junior as well senior hockey team from the ashes and for that purpose they needed at least two to three years.

“I request fans and media to support Pakistan hockey. I don't have magic lamp to overturn the fortunes of the national game overnight. I am working with sincerity and fully confident that I am the right person who could revive fortunes of Pakistan hockey,” said the president.

Khalid said the PHF had earlier decided to keep junior team in Malaysia till the Junior Asia Cup but after realising some loopholes in preparations the federation has decided to start training camp in Pakistan. He believed that Pakistan team could finish in the top four in Junior Asia Cup, pre-requisite to qualify for next year’s Junior World Cup.

When asked by this scribe when the PHF general council meeting will be called to get approval of Shahbaz Senior’s appointment as federation secretary, , Khalid said they would very soon hold the meeting and get the approval.

The PHF president said he was hoping to unearth fresh and educated talent from Inter-board hockey tournament in Bahawalpur and for that purpose he has assigned Samiullah to ensure his presence at the venue.

“I am fully focused on job ahead and rest assured, the hockey is in safe and sound hands. As soon as government releases grant, hockey would start to run all over the country. We would soon conduct trials and we would write to schools, colleges and universities to start hockey in their premises as without starting hockey at grassroots level, revival of hockey is almost impossible.”

He said they would start hockey at district and divisional level as well and have taken onboard the best coaches, who would turn around hockey fortunes. He hoped that the government would soon release the sufficient funds for the federation so that the federation could focus on its future plans rather than running from post to pillar to arrange funds.

Khalid requested the media to strengthen federation hands and said that they would take all stakeholders on board. “We are facing acute shortage of players. I am ready to induct players if anybody recommends and media is welcome to detect and recommend bright talent. It is my promise that deserving players would be given a free, fair and transparent chance to showcase their talent,” Khalid concluded.