CHENNAI: Pakistan are the most successful team in the history of the World Cup, with four titles under their belt. If only they could trade some of their storied history to assuage fears of a cash crunch within the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF)!First reported last month by a Pakistani daily, this financial crisis is believed to be so severe that the body is actually struggling to put up the required funds to send the team to the quadrennial extravaganza beginning in Bhubaneswar from November 28. Officials are thinking of approaching Prime Minister Imran Khan for funds.
The PHF has already knocked on the door of the Ministry of Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC), even though they explicitly asked PHF not to write to them. In October itself the IPC had asked PHF to use the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) as the platform for its requests.PHF secretary Shahbaz Ahmed did not respond to a question on why they approached the IPC again instead of the PSB, but did say they are working on the issue. “The news regarding Pakistan hockey’s financial crisis is true, I will not deny that,” he told Express.
“We are working on it. I have written to the IPC and expecting that it will help the team participate.” If that doesn’t work, Ahmed is going to hedge his bets on the wider community to realise the dream of his players. “We will go to the people of Pakistan and the government to get the required funds to play in the tournament. I am confident the team will travel to India.”
Hassan Sardar, who was coach of the Greenshirts till recently before becoming manager, echoed similar sentiments. In fact, he is almost certain that their government will help them out if and when they knock on the PMO’s door. “What you have heard about the financial problems is true but we are confident the government of Pakistan will help us, especially given that Imran Khan (Prime Minister) is a former sportsperson. We are sure that they will provide us with a loan and this predicament should clear in the next 3-4 days.”
The PHF had to ask for a loan to the tune of eight million Pakistani rupees (`43.30 lakh) from multiple organisations including the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). PCB, however, said it cannot release funds because of an earlier loan that’s yet to be repaid. “He (PCB chairman Ehsan Mani) made it clear that the PCB couldn’t advance any loan to the PHF since the federation had not returned a loan given to them by the board during the tenure of Lt General (retd) Tauqir Zia in early 2000,” Pakistan’s head coach Tauqir Dar was quoted as saying by PTI.
The current crunch has already hurt the side considering their final camp — supposed to begin in Lahore on November 2 — began only on Wednesday. Even then, the full squad did not report for duty. The next few days will reveal whether Sardar and Ahmed’s hopes were misplaced.