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‘Players not paid full daily allowance during Asia Cup’

‘Players not paid full daily allowance during Asia Cup’

ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary panel was on Thursday stunned to know that Pakistan’s national hockey squad was not paid their fully daily allowance while playing the Asia Cup in Bangladesh recently.

Pakistan, the former three-time Asia Cup champions, finished a dismal third in the continental event staged at Dhaka’s Maulana Bhashani Hockey Stadium as they overwhelmed South Korea 6-3 in the third-place playoff earlier this month.

“We came to know that the hockey players were not paid their daily allowances. Under these circumstance how could they perform [in the Asia Cup]?” asked Senator Saeedul Hassan Mandokhel.

Hockey board proposed to revive national game

The Senate Standing Committee on Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC), which met here at the Parliament House on Thursday with Senator Saud Majeed in the chair, expressed its concerns over the national hockey team’s poor performance in recent international events.

Pakistan Hockey Federation secretary Shahbaz Ahmed, who briefed the committee on the hockey affairs, said it would take many years for the national team to start bagging international titles again.

Responding to the issue of daily allowance, Shahbaz said the players were given half daily allowance during the Asia Cup during which arch-rivals India overpowered Pakistan twice, saying the PHF was running out of funds.

Commenting on the reasons behind Pakistan’s miserable run in the Asia Cup, the PHF official said the players’ fitness level was not up to the required level, adding lack of proper infrastructure for the game of hockey was also responsible for the poor state of country’s hockey.

“During the last 27 years, the national team have not succeeded in earning gold medal in the Asia Cup; and we last clinched the World Cup some 23 years ago,” Shahbaz said, highlighting the alarming descent of Pakistan hockey over the years.

However, the PHF secretary didn’t mention the national team’s show in the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou where they claimed gold and at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon where the green-shirts managed to seize silver.

There should be residential training academies in all provincial headquarters and Islamabad where players could receive training as well as live, suggested the PHF secretary.

The chairperson, on the occasion, directed the IPC minister to instruct all provinces to build such an academy in every provincial headquarter and Islamabad so that players could get maximum chances of training.

Meanwhile, Shahbaz also lamented the fact there were very limited job opportunities for hockey players in the country, adding those who had jobs were getting a nominal salary of around Rs25,000 per month.

To address this burning issue, the PHF secretary requested the Senate committee to play its role by engaging the government and private sector for providing jobs to players, so that youth could be attracted towards the national game.

The Senate committee unanimously supported that there should be a full-fledge hockey board, on the pattern of Pakistan Cricket Board, so that the national game could flourish under an independent board.

Pirzada said he had requested for a meeting with Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as the prime minister would finally decide about the formation of the proposed hockey board.

Published in Dawn, October 27th, 2017

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