LAHORE–Chief Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif today asked International Hockey Federation to help restore international hockey in Pakistan.

A delegation of International Hockey Federation (IHF) headed by its President Leandro Negree met Chief Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif, here wherein promotion of hockey in Pakistan, (the national game of the country) and revival of international matches were discussed. Chief Executive Officer IHF Kelly Fairweather and CEO Asian Hockey Federation Tayyab Ikram were also present on the occasion. President IHF assured the Chief Minister of extending every cooperation in reviving hockey in Pakistan while observing that security atmosphere in the country is much improved now than in the past.

Terror-hit Pakistan has been starved of the visits of the national hockey teams of other countries since 9/11 which has badly affected the standard of hockey in the country. Pakistan hockey, which won the Olympic title in Los Angles in 1984 and World Champion for four times besides holding Asian and the Champion’s trophy a number of times, today is hankering after matches with other teams on its soil.

While talking to IHF delegation, the Chief Minister assured that every security will be provided to the foreign teams on their visit to Pakistan. Counting on the successes achieved by Armed forces of Pakistan in Zarbe Azb operation against terrorists, Chief Minister said that the backbone of terrorists and their facilitators has been broken due to which the security situation in the country has substantially improved. He asked the IHF to play role in bringing international teams to Pakistan and assured that government is ready to provide all out cooperation and facilities for this purpose. The Chief Minister said that Zimbabwean cricket team visited Lahore May last and played matches and it is hoped that international teams of hockey will also visit Pakistan in the days to come. He said that speedy measures will have to be taken with the cooperation of IHF for the revival of international hockey in Pakistan. He said that it will not only provide opportunity to the people of the country to see international hockey teams in action but will also popularize hockey in Pakistan.

The Chief Minister also advised the Pakistani players to work hard and pay full attention to new trends in hockey so that Pakistan could regain its lost status in the world of hockey. He said that all possible steps are being taken for promotion of hockey in Pakistan and government has constructed new Astroturf grounds whereas grounds are also being constructed for hockey in educational institutions.

President IHF Leandro Negree said that Pakistan has played an important role in the promotion of hockey and there was a time when Pakistani hockey team was among the best in the world. He said that Pakistan should regain its lost status in the hockey world and IHF is ready to extend all out cooperation for this purpose. He said that situation in Pakistan is improving and there is a favorable atmosphere for the revival of international hockey in the country. He said that every effort will be made for persuading hockey teams of other countries to play in Pakistan and he will play his due role in this regard