LAHORE: After the disappointment of failing to qualify for the 2014 FIH World Cup, Pakistan hockey suffered another blow on Monday when the national team failed to get entry into next year’s Commonwealth Games.
This after the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) could not send expression of interest to the Games organising committee, despite having been granted extension twice.
Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) president Arif Hasan told Dawn that a letter from the organising committee of the Commonwealth Games was received on Monday in which they refused to grant further extension to the PHF to send the expression of interest for participation.
“The POA gave every chance to the PHF to send their expression of interest but they were getting the instructions from the government which doesn’t play an effective role in such cases,” Arif said.
Arif added that Pakistan would be sending a contingent for other sports as the country had a good chance to qualify in some team and individual disciplines.
The PHF, which depends on the financial resources of the federal government, decided to follow its instructions and ignored the invitation through the Arif Hasan-led POA.
The government, meanwhile, recognises another body of the national Olympic association led by Akram Sahi. Sahi’s body, though, has no affiliation with the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The two parallel bodies have been involved in a power struggle and the dispute is yet to be resolved.
Failure to make it to Glasgow is another setback for hockey after the national team finished third in last month’s Asia Cup.
Pakistan needed to win the Asia Cup in order to make next year’s World Cup which will be held in the Netherlands.
Earlier on Monday, new PHF secretary Rana Mujahid had said that if Pakistan fail to participate in next year’s Commonwealth Games, the government should be held responsible.
Rana Mujahid was elected as secretary following the resignation of Asif Bajwa in the aftermath of Pakistan’s failure to qualify for the World Cup.
“The PHF wants to take part in the Commonwealth Games and is following government instructions to get entry into the event therefore if we fail to participate, the government should be held responsible,” Rana Mujahid said at a press conference held here to announce Manzoor-ul-Hasan Senior as the new head coach of the national junior team.
Rana Mujahid was previously in-charge of the junior team affairs.
“Every player has a desire to feature in mega events such as the Commonwealth Games and we also expect our team to win a medal,” he added.
“The PHF has already written letters to the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) to take up the matter regarding the entry of national team in the Games and they have to solve the issues, including of war between the two groups for the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA).
“If the PSB asks us not to take part in the Commonwealth Games, we will follow it but again that will be the decision of the government.”
Recently, inter-provincial minister in his summary to the prime minister recommended ad hoc on the PHF.
Rana Mujahid, though, said it was unnecessary as the PHF had already announced the election schedule which runs from Oct 25 to Nov 25 and Minister for Information Pervaiz Rashid had already been appointed Election Commissioner.
“When [previous secretary] Asif Bajwa has already resigned and with president Qasim Zia deciding not to contest the next elections, then there is no need for any ad hoc as change through a democratic system will be more constitutional,” he said.
With Rana Mujahid being elected as PHF secretary, Manzoor has been tasked with the job of leading the junior team at the Sultan of Johor Cup which starts in Malaysia from Sept 23.
Rana Mujahid announced that national team coach Tahir Zaman will also travel to Malaysia with the junior team as consultant.
Manzoor informed that he himself had approached the PHF for the job.
“I took this responsibility as a challenge and I’ve set myself a target of forming a team capable of winning the FIH Junior World Cup [which will take place in India from Dec 6],” Manzoor said.
“Time isn’t on my side but I know what I have to do. Coaches like Danish Kaleem and Anjum Saeed have been working with this team for the last three years, so, I am hopeful that after meeting with them we will be able to prepare an effective strategy.”
Reminiscing on his track record, he added: “I prepared that Pakistan team in three years — which had finished 11th in the 1986 World Cup 1986 — that played in the final of the 1990 World Cup.”
Despite having been away from the game for almost a decade due to his posting in Saudia Arabia as PIA station manager, Manzoor said hockey hadn’t changed much in that span except for changes in the off-side and the penalty-corner rule.
“The pace of the game has changed but the basic rules are the same,” he said. “And I haven’t been out of touch with the game in the last ten years as I followed news of the hockey team through television and newspapers.”