LAHORE: Expressing strong reservations over the way the new role of national junior team manager was given to him by the Pakistan Hockey Federation, former Olympian Manzoor Junior on Wednesday parted ways with the PHF.

Talking to Dawn after the PHF issued a press release earlier on Wednesday announcing him as manager of the national junior team and appointing Kaleemullah as chief selector in his place, Manzoor said no TORs or other relevant details were discussed with him before the PHF gave him the new role.

In a random meeting, captain of Pakistan’s victorious team at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics Manzoor said he had presented to the authorities that he had a plan and vision to hunt junior talent in order to raise a strong team for Pakistan in the future. “But the way I was given the role of manager without having a proper meeting, it is better I sideline myself from the PHF,” Manzoor said.

Manzoor, who was a member of the Pakistan teams which won several global and Asian titles during late 1970s and until around mid-1980s, joined the PHF in 2019 as chief of the junior selection committee and held trials across the country but unfortunately due to global Covid-19 outbreak no international hockey contests took place for quite some time.

Later, Manzoor was elevated as chief selector of the national senior team before being given the role of junior team manager which is a position that has no role in seeking new talent or coaching players

Earlier on Wednesday in a major shake-up, the PHF changed the position of chief selector Manzoor Junior, giving him the post of national junior team’s manager, and elevated Kaleemullah who was a member of the national selection committee, as chief selector.

The other members of the selection committee will remain as they are.

Talking to Dawn, PHF secretary Asif Bajwa in an interesting statement said Manzoor Junior was interested in hunting future talent for the country, so he was given the role of manager.

According to Bajwa, Manzoor had accepted the new role after meeting PHF president retired Brig Khalid Sajjad Khokhar.

Moreover, former Olympian Rehan Butt has been appointed as head coach of the junior team. Former Olympians Kashif Jawad and Waqas Sharif have been made assistant coaches to Rehan.

Meanwhile, Bajwa said more changes would be made in the team management after this year’s July 28-Aug 8 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

When it was pointed out that Pakistan’s Dutch head coach Siegfried Aikman had expressed some reservations over the selectors’ role in team selection and if the new chief selector would have full powers to pick the team, Bajwa said the selection committee had vast powers and it had to seek talent for the national team.

Bajwa continued, “Aikman never raised any objection over the role of the selection committee as he is bound to follow the PHF policy.”

Here it is pertinent to mention that Aikman, in a media talk, sounded dissatisfied with the role of the selection committee and said they had no knowledge about modern hockey.

The Manzoor Junior-led selection committee did not conduct the trials held for Pakistan senior team’s tour to Europe earlier this year.

It seems the cold war-like situation emerging between Manzoor Junior and Aikman forced the PHF to pull out the former from the national selection committee and appoint Kaleemullah as chief selector.

Kaleemullah was the lone selector who on the Europe tour accompanied the national team, which played matches against Germany, Holland and Spain.

Kaleemullah travelled to Europe when Manzoor Junior was not taken on board on selecting the team for the said tour.

However, after the Europe tour Aikmen gave briefing to Manzoor’s national selection committee about the selection of the team for this year’s Asia Cup in Jakarta where Pakistan ended fifth among eight nations and subsequently failed to qualify for the 2023 World Cup to be held in India.

Published in Dawn, July 7th, 2022

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