The Pakistan hockey team's chances of playing in next year's Olympic Games appeared to have ended after the International Hockey Federation (FIH) did not include it in the pre-qualifying tournament scheduled for next month.
The new secretary-general of Pakistan Hockey Federation,Asif Bajwa, said that the development was a big setback for Pakistan. "TheFIH has taken this decision since we did not send our team for the FIHPro-Hockey League in February-April," he said.
Bajwa, who has taken over from legendary player ShahbazAhmed, said he would write to the FIH to reconsider its decision and make aspot for Pakistan to at least try to qualify for the Olympics.
"I will also be meeting with important governmentofficials soon to discuss the future of hockey in Pakistan and the fundingissue." The FIH has already fined PHF around 170,000 Euros for not sendingthe team to the Pro-Hockey League in Argentina, Australia and New Zealand,which, it says, damaged the sport's growth globally.
Shortage of funds had led to the PHF not sending its teamfor the Olympics qualifying process.
Hockey, which is the designated national sport in Pakistan,has suffered a steep downfall in recent years due to administrativemismanagement, wrong selection policies and failure by the PHF to getsponsorship and funds.
A sport in which Pakistan was one of the best on the basisof winning several world, Olympic and Asian Games titles is today in direstraits and Bajwa said that there was just 7 lakh and 65,000 rupees in PHFaccounts.In the ongoing inaugural FIH Pro-League whichbegan in January, nine teams are competing in a round-robin tournament withhome and away matches till June. The top four teams will earn a ticket to theFIH's Olympic Qualification events.