Lahore : Pakistan Hockey Federation is extremely disappointed as well as astonished over the International Hockey Federation’s decision to exclude Pakistan from the Junior World Cup scheduled to start from December 8 in the Indian city of Lucknow.
According to the FIH, the PHF had failed to meet the official deadline for submitting the travel documents of its players. The game’s world governing body has announced Malaysia as a replacement for Pakistan in the tournament.
This version of the FIH is completely baseless as the PHF had submitted Visa Application Forms along with the relevant documents pertaining to visa formalities well in time on October 24. The No Objection Certificate from the government of Pakistan had also been obtained on time but still India did not issue visas to the Pakistan’s contingent.
Ironically, India is ready to provide visa to the Malaysian team, who have replaced Pakistan, in three-days. When Pakistan hockey team last visited India, for the SAF games in February this years, the Visa had been issued within two weeks of submission.
It is also pertinent to mention that the PHF was ready to send the team despite the prevailing tension along the Line of Control between Pakistan and India. The PHF hadn’t even asked for the provision of any special security for the Pakistan’s junior squad in India.
This unfortunate decision of the FIH is a great setback to Pakistan hockey. Since, Pakistan couldn’t qualify for the last Olympics (2016) and the Senior World Cup (2014), this Junior World Cup was the main event for Pakistan hockey. For last year and a half, a lot of efforts and resources had been spent towards the training of the junior team. The side made two preparatory tours of Europe this summer. The improvement is very much there to be seen. Pakistan juniors who ended last 6th in the 2015 Sultan of Johor Cup surprised everyone by playing the final of the same event in 2016. The boys had been peaking for the big event in Lucknow. Despite, its limited resources, the PHF had spent around Rs100 million for the preparation of this junior squad.
All this has now gone down the drain. The junior boys, who had been looking forward to appear in the biggest event for their life, are in a state of shock. Pakistan hockey was banking on this bunch of players for the revival of its fortunes. This unjust act has pushed our hockey back a few years.