ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) secretary Shahbaz Senior has termed the national hockey team’s tour to New Zealand and Australia very beneficial saying it will help in getting positive results.

In an interview with The Nation, Shahbaz said: “We spent Rs 25 million on New Zealand and Australia series and we are not bothered about results, but the main purpose of this tour was much-needed international exposure for the boys. Playing against New Zealand was never easy not even during our times, so beating them at their own backyard is a remarkable achievement of our players and team management.”

“Playing against mighty Australia at their home soil was a big task, but results are not bad at all. Off course, Australia team is a very tough nut to crack and they are at their usual best, but it is a great learning experience for green shirts, who are not only enjoying their hockey but also quickly adopting to the terms. This tour will help the players prepare well for the World Hockey League set to be played in London from June this year. The league is also like qualifiers for the Hockey World Cup next year. We can’t take it lightly, and will try our best to not only quality for next year world cup but also do well in it,” he added.

The PHF secretary said that Pakistan team based on experience and youth. “The players from U-21 are doing well, but I can’t comment on that as we are waiting for the team’s return and after going through managers’ report, we will decide about the fate of the youngsters. One thing is quite clear that the boys, who are performing well, have a long and bright future ahead, while those, who fail to get a place in the side for the England trip, must not feel dishearten and work harder to earn back place in the team. The young players are off course physically much better and we have been expecting better performances from them.”

When asked about the fate of senior players, especially the likes of Shakeel Abbasi, Shahbaz replied: “Frankly speaking, they didn’t stand any chance of playing again for the country, as they failed to shine even in domestic level, so how could they prove their fitness and performance? We might consider them, but for the time being, I think they have played for the country and should think about fresh roles, may be in coaching or any other, which they feel better or suit them well.”

Replying to a query about boycotting Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) meeting to show disappointment over the way Malaysian Hockey Federation treated Pakistan by not inviting them for Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, the PHF secretary said: “We not only boycotted the AHF meeting, but also registered strong protest and wrote to our High Commissioner in Malaysia to take up the issue, as we have been helping Malaysian hockey for the last two decades and this is not the way to treat former world champions. “Actually, the Malaysian Hockey Federation high performance director advised against inviting Pakistan, that’s why they didn’t invite us, while besides that, none of Pakistani umpires or officials will attend the course in Malaysia during Sultan Azlan Shah Cup,” he added.

“We are working day and night on ways and means how to enhance Pakistan hockey team performance, providing them best coaching, facilities, tours and regular tournaments and using every way to generate funds, conducting junior, female and youth level tournaments, coaching courses and inducting fresh blood in the senior team. We need masses’ support, as the time is not far, when Pakistan hockey will regain its lost glory,” Shahbaz concluded.