ISLAMABAD-The meeting of Senate Standing Committee on Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC) was held here on Tuesday under the chairmanship of Senator Sardar Muhammad Yaqoob Khan Nasar to discuss various sports related matters in detail.

The issues raised by Senator Mushtaq Ahmed for hockey, cricket, squash, snooker and boxing at the international level were taken up in detail in the meeting. The chairman committee said hockey was the national game of Pakistan and a better strategy should be adopted and the Parliament’s suggestions must be implemented for its betterment.

Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) Secretary M Asif Bajwa informed the committee that there are 1600 astro-turfs in Netherlands, whereas Pakistan has 24 out of which 10 are not of international standards. “India spends Rs 1.5 billion on hockey, whereas the PHF received a grant of Rs 1.5 million and volleyball got Rs 3 million. The national game is being treated like a stepchild. Earlier there used to be a Minister for Sports and Education but now sports were not played in schools, colleges and universities as now the priorities have changed,” he said.

“Shoes for hockey players, football and other things have become very expensive. The playing fields are deserted and we have to pay rent to play. If no player will play 35 to 40 matches with international teams then improvement is not possible. There is a lot of talent in the country but due to lack of funds, there is no performance. Pakistan has won the Asian Games in 2010 after 20 years. The national game needs attention,” he said.

Senator Mushahid Ullah Khan said hockey had brought great happiness to Pakistan but now the people are no longer interested in the game. “Earlier private companies including government departments used to form their hockey teams and sponsor them. There were Wapda, banks and many other institutions, which provided good salaries to the players but now hockey seems dead, which needs to be revived,” he said.

He said the private sector should be asked to form hockey teams. “Attention should be paid on hockey in educational institutions and their sports funds should be spent on the promotion of the game. We should make use of our former greats and create a hockey channel and should present them as heroes in front of people,” he said and added that influential people of the country like Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain can help in improving the game.

Senator Faisal Javed said the current era was of the media therefore it should support sports in Pakistan. “Pakistan Television should show old hockey matches and we have to present our former players as heroes,” he said and added that educational institutions hold programs other than sports. Senator Sitara Ayaz said that the Ministry of Education should revive sports in educational institutions and promote domestic hockey.

Senator Sarfraz Ahmed Bugti said it was the responsibility of the government to provide hockey with a better budget and oblige companies to support sports in Pakistan. “A fund should be setup for the game,” he said. Senator Mirza Muhammad Afridi said the budget being provided to hockey was very low. “A hockey structure should be made alike the Pakistan Super League (PSL) in Pakistan,” he said.

The chairman committee said every possible step would be taken to make hockey a popular sport once again. The committee expressed displeasure over the non-attendance of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman and CEO from the meeting and asked to postpone the agenda of the new domestic cricket structure till the next meeting in protest. Besides the senators, IPC Secretary Ghufran Memon, PCB, PHF and Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) officials also attended the meeting.