Karachi: Once a source of pride for the nation, Pakistan hockey is facing a battle for survival after the national hockey federation suspended a national training camp because it couldn't pay the players and coaches daily allowances.
Rana Mujahid, the secretary of the Pakistan Hockey Federation, told PTI they were forced to suspend the camp set up for the Olympic qualifying tournament because of paucity of funds. "Hockey is facing a grave crisis let me be clear. We don't have enough funds to pay daily allowances or take care of expenses for the camp. Plus we don't even have funds to pay salaries of the staff," Mujahid said.
The camp was set up at the Naseer Bunda stadium in Rawalpindi since last month but has now been suspended till April 10th until the PF resolves the matter of funds. Pakistan has to appear in the Olympic qualifying tournament in the Netherlands in June and before that have also planned training tours to Korea and Australia to play
"Right now we don't know what is going to happen but if the government or anyone else does not come forward to help us than I am afraid the camp would have to be called off and our participation in international events will be off." Mujahid said the PHF had repeatedly requested the government and its ministry to release funds for hockey but so far nothing has happened.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has thrice called off scheduled meetings with the PHF officials and national team players. "It is a sad situation for hockey because only in the last two international events that we took part in, the national team won silver medals so what more can the players do," he added.
The Pakistan hockey team's participation in the Champions Trophy in India three months back was only made possible after two businessmen and sports enthusiasts, Nadeem Omar and Riaz Malik provided nearly 10 million rupees to the team. Hockey has always been a source of pride for Pakistanis with many world titles and Olympic titles to its credit.