In this photo, Pakistan hockey players celebrate scoring a goal. — AFP/File

In this photo, Pakistan hockey players celebrate scoring a goal. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s legendary hockey Olympian Samiullah Khan backed the government’s decisions of conducting an audit of the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) and controversial National Games held in 2013.

Samiullah, dubbed the ‘Flying Horse’ in his playing days for his speed and skills, said that the standard of Pakistan hockey has fallen drastically over the last few years whilst other teams have improved by leaps and bounds and said that instead of promoting the national game, the PHF has misused the funding.

“Despite spending over Rs1 billion during the last five years, the PHF has achieved nothing. A few years back, we were at No 8 [in the world rankings] and now we’re at 10th,” bemoaned Samiullah while talking to Dawn on Tuesday.

“It’s even more disappointing that the Pakistan team, which has won the World Cup four times, failed to qualify for the last edition of the World Cup. Over Rs1 billion was released by the previous government to the PHF which unfortunately couldn’t be properly spent on the promotion of game.

“I’m surprised where the money was spent, as PHF did not establish any new stadium and even hostel for players,” he added, appreciating the government’s decision of ordering an audit of PHF’s financial affairs.

“Proving corruption is the work of auditors, but I’m pretty sure that funds were badly misused and fell victim of mismanagements. I came to know that during foreign tours, the PHF high-ups used to stay in six-star hotels.”

He also said that he was happy upon hearing that the Ministry of Inter Provincial Coordination has decided to conduct an audit of the 2013 National Games.

“In five days they spent over Rs130million for these games and a fair audit should be conducted to unmask all those who either misused the funds or were involved in any kind of corruption,” he said.

Samiullah said that there seems to be mistrust between government and the PHF, which has resulted in the decline of hockey.

“I think government has reached the conclusion that huge funds should not be handed over to the PHF and this is a good step,” he said, adding that PHF should be given target-oriented funding.

“I think, instead of handing them billions of rupees, the PHF should be given funding in instalments for each tournament.”

Samiluallah reckoned that there was no dearth of hockey talent in the country.

“Within four years time, we can grab the top-four ranking with honest efforts and hard work but no one is sincere in achieving that target,” he said, suggesting that the incumbent PHF should be replaced with talented team, which can activate the corporate sector for sponsorships.

Nevertheless, he appreciated the efforts made by head coach Shahnaz Sheikh due to which the team won silver medals at last year’s Asian Games and the Champions Trophy.

Published in Dawn,


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