ISLAMABAD: Secretary Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) Secretary Shahbaz Ahmed Senior on Monday said that Pakistan would launch its first professional domestic league in November involving foreign players.
“Work to start country’s first pro league is in progress and hopefully it will be given final touches by the end of ongoing month or at the start of next month,” Shahbaz told APP.
Pakistan have not won a major title since claiming the last of their eight men’s Olympic gold medals at Moscow in 1980.
Shahbaz believed that initiation of league would help Pakistan regain its past glory in the game. “The league will prove a landmark in regaining the glory of hockey and will help rebuild our supremacy in the game internationally,” Shahbaz added.
“We have to start rebuilding and that can be done by providing a platform to our young players to play in an active league with some best players of the world. This will help hone their talent,” he added.
Without divulging the details of the prize money of the league, Shahbaz stated that the best players from all hockey playing nations would be welcomed in the league. However, he did not sound optimistic about the participation of European players in first edition of the league. “We will invite best players from all nations but I don’t think European players are going to feature in the inaugural edition.”
To a query he said four to five best players from India would also be invited for the league. “I’m confident that in the beginning besides India players from Malaysia, Korea and other Asian nations will feature in the league.”
Shahbaz said that he and President PHF Brig (rtd) Khalid Khokhar were not going to India to witness any match during the South Asian Games (SAG) as they did not apply for Indian visa because they thought it was not suitable time to visit the neighbouring country.
“I believe that we should have good terms with Indian hockey officials but keeping in view a few recent incidents I don’t feel it is the right time to touch them.”