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World hockey chief to visit Pakistan

By Omar Khalid, IANS,

Karachi : Pakistan will look to get the support of International Hockey Federation (FIH) chief Leandro Negre to pave the path for visit of international teams to Pakistan.

Negre will be visiting the country starting Oct 13.

Sources in the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) told IANS Friday that Negre will be a guest of the Pakistani government during his five-day visit and will meet top dignitaries during the trip.

Negre, a Spaniard, who took over as FIH president last year, will meet President Asif Ali Zardari Oct 14 and will also hold important meetings with other top functionaries.

He will get a detailed briefing from senior officials of Pakistan’s interior ministry during the visit of Pakistan during which he will also inaugurate a national hockey tournament in Islamabad Oct 15.

“We want to convince him (Negre) that Pakistan is a safe destination for international hockey,” said a senior PHF official, who requested anonymity. “Everyone knows about Pakistan’s standing in the hockey world in the past and we want to give the FIH president this message that the country should be brought back in the mainstream,” he added.

The PHF is hoping to host a major international hockey tournament next year and want the support of the FIH top brass in convincing top teams to come and play here.

Pakistan last hosted a major tournament in 2004 when it staged the Champions Trophy in Lahore. Since then international hockey teams have stayed away from the country because of security concerns.

Meanwhile, the Punjab government has assured the national hockey chiefs that the high-powered FIH delegation will visit Lahore next month and will be given a fool-proof security cover.

Shahbaz Sharif, Punjab’s Chief Minister, told Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) president Qasim Zia that Negre and members of his delegation will be the guests of the provincial government during their stay in Lahore.