ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary panel has recommended the government to include hockey, being national game as part of policy-making board of Pakistan Sports Board.

National Assembly Standing Committee on Inter-Provincial Coord­ination (IPC), which met here at Parliament House with MNA Agha Hassan Baloch in the chair, discussed the issues of hockey in details.

The committee said that Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) should have been part of the newly formed board for PSB. Earlier this year in June the government had formed a new board, reducing it from 37 members to 11, but surprisingly PHF was not considered for representation.

On the other hand, Pakistan Football Federa­tion and Pakistan Athletic Federation had been given representation in the said board.

The officials of PSB and IPC told the committee that because of rotation, the PHF could not be given representative(s) in the board. However, committee chairman, whose views were supported by other members including MNAs Nawab Sher and Muhammad Ibrahim Khan, recommended that PHF should be made part of the board as hockey is national game and it should be given due role in country’s sports circle.

Secretary PHF Asif Bajwa and head coach Khawaja Junaid briefed the committee about the issues being faced by PHF.

They said that major issue of the PHF was lack of funding coupled with insufficient job opportunities. They said that hockey players faced massive problems in getting jobs and even admission in educational institution as there was no significant quota in that regard.

PHF secretary informed that the financial insecurity affected the players and their performance. He said that without having sufficient funds, PHF could not ensure required participation of national teams in international events in a calendar year.

He said that without maximum participation in mega international events, the level of the game could not be improved.

The committee said that hockey deserved due attention due to glorious past of national side in the sport and required fund and partronage must be given to it.

The committee recommended that regular funds should be given to PHF while the job security of international level players should also be ensured.

The chair directed the PHF should discuss issues faced by it with Secretary ministry of IPC so that a proposal could be presented before the committee to revive hockey in Pakistan. The committee members said that even if any sort of legislation was required, committee would play its role to revive the national game.

Pakistan, a country, which boasts three Olympic gold medals, four World Cups, three Asia Cup titles, eight Asian Games gold medals along with several other honours, required major intervention and patronage from the government for revival of the game, as during the last two decades it could not achieve any worth mentioning titles. Even country’s national team also failed to make a mark in 2018 Hockey World Cup, Commonwealth Games, Champion Trophy and the Asia Cup. Whereas, it also could not qualify for Tokyo Olympic 2020, which has now been delayed due to Covid-19.

The committee was also supposed to take up agenda item with regard to the question moved by MNA Dr. Mahreen Razzaq Bhutto regarding the annual income and expenditure of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for the last three years.

However, due to non-presence of the mover in the meeting, the said PCB briefing was deferred till the next meeting, which would be held in next meeting, likely to be held in Lahore.

MNAs Mebhoob Shah, Gul Dad Khan, Gul Zafar Khan, Rubina Jamil, Munawara Bibi Baloch, Shaheen Naz Saifullah, Muhammad Hashim, Ali Zahid, Ch. Zulfiqar Ali Bhinder, Rana Mubashir Iqbal, Rasheed Ahmad Khan, Zulfiqar Ali Behan, Shahida Rehmani, Nasiba Channa, Muhammad Anwar, Ch. Faqir Ahme and senior officials from the Ministry of IPC attended the meeting.

Published in Dawn, September 25th, 2020