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Pakistan hockey Who’s Who meets in bid to revive game

By Omar Khalid, IANS,

Karachi : Pakistan’s hockey fraternity will meet in Karachi over the next few days in a bid to devise a strategy to lift the national game out of the prevailing slump.

Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) secretary Asif Bajwa told IANS Saturday that the PHF top brass will hold a series of meetings with Olympians, hockey promoters and sponsors before preparing a blueprint that is aimed at the development of hockey in the country.

PHF’s newly-elected president Qasim Zia, hero of Pakistan’s 1984 Olympic triumph in Los Angeles, will be chairing the meetings. Zia is a senior leader of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party in Punjab and his appointment as PHF chief is seen by the national hockey community as a step in the right direction.

Zia has already raised Rs.150 million from the federal and provincial governments and is planning to gather more funds needed to improve the state of hockey in Pakistan.

“All possible efforts will be made to lift Pakistan hockey from the prevailing crisis,” said Bajwa, also an Olympian. He said that the PHF wants to take along all stakeholders in its bid to improve the standard of hockey in the country.

“Pakistan hockey has been down for many years and now a united effort is needed to revive it,” he said.

Pakistan’s hockey fortunes hit rock bottom this August as it finished in a disastrous eighth position in the Olympic Games in Beijing. It was the worst showing in Olympic history by the three-time champions.

Now Zia and company are looking forward to reverse their team’s fortunes in the 2010 World Cup in India and the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

Bajwa said the PHF is seeking the support of all former Olympians. “The former players can play a big role in reviving hockey and we hope they will back us because we are a part of their community,” said the PHF secretary.

Bajwa said that one of the steps taken by the new PHF regime is to revive friendly ties with India. “Together with India, we can help revive hockey in the region,” he said.

Pakistan has invited India’s junior hockey team for a five-match Test series that will get underway here at the Hockey Club of Pakistan Nov 12. Pakistan will name its team for the series Sunday.