ISLAMABAD - Pakistan hockey team assistant coach and Olympian Rehan Butt has said that cash-strapped hockey players are still keen to win gold medal in the upcoming Asian Games.

Talking to The Nation, Rehan said: “Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) is under tremendous financial strain and it is impossible for the federation to pay dailies of the players, but even then the morale in the camp is sky-high and the boys are determined to win gold for the country.

“We are residing at Islah-ud-din Hockey Academy, where the facilities are excellent and we are mainly working on physical fitness of the players. Head coach Roelant Oltmans and physical trainer Daniel Barry also joined the camp from the day one. We are taking the camp very seriously, as Asian Games gold medal is our main target,” he added.

Rehan said they are facing huge difficulties due to non-availability of funds and it is very important for the federal government to immediately release funds for PHF before the team’s departure for the Asian Games. “The players, who are deprived of their dailies, are also urging the federal government to release the funds of PHF. If the players will not get their basic rights due to shortage of funds, how will they focus on their game and performance? On behalf of Pakistan hockey team and PHF, I personally request Prime Minister to release the federation’s funds, so that they may clear players and staff dues.”

He said the national team camp is in full swing while head coach Oltmans and supporting staff are working dedicatedly and trying to enhance players’ stamina and work on good finishing. “The boys created so many chances in the recently-concluded Champions Trophy in Netherlands but they just lacked poor finishing in front of the goal. So we are working on in and hopefully, it will be improved and the boys will perform well.”

The assistant coach said the PHF president and secretary have been doing their jobs with great devotion and they have tried their best to provide each and every facility to the players. “The way junior and senior players were provided jobs, it was not witnessed since long. Now the players have to dig deep and put up more efforts to produce better results.

“We can only train and help them overcome their mistakes but we can’t play for them in the field. Same is the case with federation, which can provide best facilities, jobs, training, international coaches and international exposure to the players, and in return, they have to play out their hearts and help Pakistan win laurels at international levels,” he added.

“There is still time left before leaving for Jakarta, Indonesia for Asian Games. I once again request PM and President to check our results and without wasting further time, release funds for the federation, as timely payment will do wonders for the country and players and help them finish on the podium,” Rehan concluded.