Hockey team seeks help to play World Cup after PCB’s refusal


KARACHI: The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) is in a dire need for help after it suffered a massive blow ahead of the World Cup in India as the country’s cricket body, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), refused to provide a loan.

The PHF had requested for financial aid to clear the outstanding dues of the players and send the national hockey team to the World Cup in Bhubaneswar starting November 28. Pakistan, who are placed in Pool D along with Germany, the Netherlands and Malaysia, start their campaign against Germany on December 1.

Pakistan’s new head coach Tauqeer Dar and manager Hasan Sardar confirmed that they had spoken to PCB chairman Ehsan Mani and requested him to provide a loan to cover the expenses for the World Cup. “Mani was scheduled to meet us on Thursday but due to some urgent issues, he spoke to us on phone. He made it clear that the PCB couldn’t advance any loan to the PHF since the federation had not returned a loan given to them by the board during the tenure of Lt Gen (R) Tauqeer Zia in early 2000,” said Dar.

Dar added that Mani had minced no words in stating that due to the old loan it was not possible for the board to give a new loan since it had to answer to its financial advisors and auditors. “Mani sahib has, however, assured us he will speak to the government and sponsors to help us overcome our financial crunch,” Dar added.

PHF secretary Shahbaz Ahmed also told PTI that the national team’s participation in the World Cup was in acute danger since the government was yet to respond to repeated requests from the PHF to release a grant of 8 million Pakistani rupees. “We have now written directly to the Prime Minister’s secretariat for the grant to be released this week or else it would be very difficult for us to send the team to India,” he said. “If we are not able to send the team to India, it will not only damage our image in world hockey but we will also face a hefty fine from the FIH,” Shahbaz added.

Dar said that they had told Mani to talk to the Prime Minister and if the government wanted they could directly pay the hotel where the Pakistan team will stay for the World Cup and also credit outstanding dues of the players in their individual accounts instead of giving any money to the PHF.

The players have yet to get their daily allowance for the Asian Champions Trophy and the camp set up prior to the tournament last month in Karachi. To ensure it got visas on time from the Indian High Commission, the PHF has even applied for visas well in advance to avoid any issues later on as two years ago, the national junior team couldn’t travel to India for the Junior World Cup for lack of visa.

The camp for the World Cup kicked off in Lahore from Wednesday with Dar taking charge as the new head coach and Danish Kaleem as his assistant. Hasan Sardar continues to be the manager and Rehan Butt is assistant. The World Cup is scheduled in Bhubaneswar from November 28 to December 16.