LAHORE – Former hockey Olympians which are in a tug-of-war with Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) officials got a boost when they are given the responsibility to hold the hockey events in the Punjab Sports Festival 2012.

M Saqlain, who is now-a-days giving tough time to the PHF in Punjab, has been appointed director for holding hockey tournament. Jumping on the opportunity, all the Olympians, who are in the legal war with the PHF, will also gather under the Punjab government umbrella with an aim of boosting the game of hockey in the highly-populated province of the Pakistan. The Olympians including Khawaja Tariq Aziz, Khalid Mehmood, Shahnaz Sheikh, Atif Bashir, Saleem Nazim, Manzoor Junior, Rasheedul Hassan, Samiullah, Islahuddin, Qamar Zia, Shahbaz Senior, Tahir Zaman and others will hold a meeting on Thursday (tomorrow) to finalise the event at the National Hockey Stadium at 4pm that would be followed by a press conference.

Sports Board Punjab chairman Hamza Shahbaz Sharif and organising secretary festival Rana Mashhood have appointed Saqlain as tournament director to organise the hockey events in a successful manner.

According to sources, few PHF officials tried their best to include their representatives in the organising committee but they were shown cold shoulder by the festival organisers. When contacted former captain and Olympian Saqlain, he said the PHF will not have any role in holding this event as it was an event of the Sports Board Punjab and confirmed that the PHF officials tried hard to include their representatives but all went in vain.

“The festival organisers gave us honour to hold the hockey events of the Punjab Sports Festival in a befitting manner and we will try our best to not only organise the events successfully but also hunt young and talented players for Punjab team,” he said and added: “We will monitor the performances of all the participating players and the top performers will be given chance in the Punjab team, which will play against Indian Punjab hockey team soon.”

When this scribe contended PHF secretary Asif Bajwa, he said that it was not PHF event as it was Sports Board Punjab event and they were not involved in it. “We appreciate the efforts of the sports festival organisers as they are providing opportunities to the players and giving them healthy activity to keep them busy and promoting the game,” Bajwa added. To a query regarding inclusion of former Olympians in the event’s organising committee, the PHF secretary replied: “It will be very good for the boost of hockey, if all the Olympians will sit together and think about the game and its promotion and it doesn’t matter what they think about the PHF but the good news is that they will be active for the hockey boost.”