ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) president Brig (R) Khalid Sajjad Khokhar has confirmed that the federation has sent a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan to spare some time and invite the PHF for an important meeting.

Talking to The Nation, Brig Khokhar said: “I went to meet Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) Minister Dr Fehmida Mirza along with secretary Olympian Shahbaz Senior, but she was busy in National Assembly proceedings and we met with IPC secretary Jamil Ahmad for more than two hours. We informed him about the problems being faced by the federation due to acute shortage of funds and Hockey World Cup is round the corner. He told us to write down the suggestions to the ICP Ministry and government and then we will send details in a day or two.”

He said that they wanted to meet PM as soon as possible, as a few so-called hockey lovers and former players were posing them as champions and vowing to take Pakistan hockey to new heights, but the fact is that no one can change the fortunes of hockey overnight. “We have implemented our plans, which have now started bearing fruits. We have done everything we could do and by the grace of Almighty and help of our near and dear ones, we have brought betterment in Pakistan hockey and found a great number of young and talented players, who are real asset of the country.”

He said that the critics must understand that it was only one-goal difference, which deprived Pakistan of Asian Games medal, whether it was gold or bronze. “Yes, it is true that green shirts failed in the crucial semifinal and then the third place play off, but they played better hockey throughout the Asian Games. One or two minor mistakes don’t mean that Pakistan hockey team played badly. Only in near future, they were conceding dozens of goals and could hardly score, but now they have scored more than 40 goals and conceded only handful, which is, for me, a big achievement.

“But the critics have just one aim of spoiling all the good work done by the federation and players. They never appreciate our good work and don’t recognise that the team is gradually rising from the ashes and World Cup is just round the corner, we need to be united, rather than point-scoring. They must come up with ideas and ways how jointly we can improve hockey and win laurels for the country,” he added.

When asked about Oltman’s resignation and whether federation is still keen to get back his services, Brig Khokhar said: “Oltmans has tendered his resignation sighting personal problems and we respect his decision. He spent around nine months with Pakistan hockey team and passed on his knowledge to our coaches. Now time is short before the World Cup in India and we don’t want to hire another international coach for the time being.

“Our own coaches M Saqlain, Rehan Butt and Hassan Sardar are capable of doing job for the country and team. Hassan Sardar is a proven stuff and his presence with the national team will prove very beneficial. I will personally visit the national team training camp in Lahore and motivate the players to deliver for the country,” he added.

The PHF chief said that he could assure PM and IPC Minister that they are capable of handling the pressure, turning the fortunes of national game and winning laurels for the country. Once the federation gets sufficient amount of funds, it will start delivering well.”