Olympians suspect financial mismanagement in PHF

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    Otherwise there is no logical reason for Qasim Zia to shield Bajwa, says Shahnaz

    Friday, March 19, 2010
    By Khalid Hussain

    KARACHI: Former Olympians gunning for sweeping changes in the national hockey set-up in the aftermath of the World Cup debacle raised suspicions of financial mismanagement within the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) here on Thursday.

    Shahnaz Sheikh, former Olympian, told ‘The News’ that he is bewildered by PHF president Qasim’s Zia’s reluctance to sack “incompetent†officials, adding that the only reason why such an action is yet to be taken is that there could be financial mismanagement in the PHF.

    “There is something going on behind the scenes,†said Shahnaz, a former Pakistan coach and manager. “People are talking about some kind of a cover-up and I also suspect that there could be financial mismanagement within the PHF which is why there is a resistance to calls that a new secretary should take over replacing Asif Bajwa, the man whom we all believe should be held responsible for Pakistan’s humiliating performance in the World Cup.â€

    Pakistan crashed to an embarrassing last-place finish in the 12-nation World Cup in Delhi earlier this month. The country’s hockey chiefs sacked the team management and the national selection committee but several former Olympians and international players believe that the main culprit of the World Cup disaster was spared.

    Several former greats from all over the country gathered here on Thursday at a “Meet the Press†hosted by the Karachi Press Club to voice their disapproval over Qasim’s refusal to remove Bajwa.

    Shahnaz and Gulraiz Shaikh came from Sialkot, Shahbaz Ahmed came from Faisalabad and Saeed Khan from Lahore. From Karachi there were former Pakistan skipper Islahuddin, Akhtar-ul-Islam, Samiullah, Ayaz Mehmood, Rasheedul-Hasan, Qamar Zia, Naeem Akhtar, Mansoor Ahmed, M. Irfan, Kamran Ashraf, Parvez Iqbal, Qamar Ibrahim and Masood-ur-Rehman.

    “By allowing Bajwa to continue as secretary, Qasim Zia has taken a fatal decision for Pakistan hockey,†said Shahnaz. “After what happened at the World Cup there is no justification to protect him,†he stressed.

    Shahnaz said that he has written to Chaudhry Nisar Ahmed, chairman Public Accounts Committee (PAC), to launch an inquiry into PHF’s accounts.

    “This PHF set-up has received hundreds of millions of rupees from the government,†said Shahnaz. “I believe that it spent almost 200 million rupees on World Cup preparations during the last 18 months or so. All of those precious funds have gone down the drain with the 12th position in the World Cup.â€

    Shahnaz said that the national team management failed miserably in their World Cup task which was to get the best out of their players in Delhi. “Our planning was too defensive,†he said. “It brought Sohail Abbas and our goalie under too much pressure,†he added. “Sohail was our main weapon as a drag flick expert but he failed to give his best because he was under too much pressure as a defender.â€

    Rasheed-ul-Hasan, another former great, blamed the PHF officials for dragging players into politics.

    “The worst thing that has happened to hockey is that the PHF officials have dragged the players into politics just to shield themselves,†he said referring to the fact that the entire national hockey team announced retirement after losing the playoff for the 11th place against minnows Canada. Rasheed alleged that the players took the decision on the instigation of PHF officials

    “They have set a very bad precedent,†he said, adding that all the Olympians have united to help put Pakistan hockey back on track.

    “The problem with the current PHF is that they don’t have any role models,†he said. “If you look at the national team management and the selection committee which were sacked after the World Cup, Hasan Sardar (former chief selector) was the only person who was a role model. What our hockey and the youngsters need are role models whom they can follow and win laurels for Pakistan.â€

    Islahuddin said that Olympians and internationals have joined hands from “Karachi to Khyber†to save Pakistan hockey.

    “Pakistan hockey is heading towards complete disaster. The man responsible for it is Asif Bajwa. He called all the shots and should take responsibility for the World Cup debacle,†said Islah, captain of the Pakistan team that won the 1978 World Cup.

    “Give us the reasons why he can’t be removed. If the PHF president says that Bajwa is an elected secretary then the past four secretaries were also elected. Khalid Mehmood, the previous secretary, was removed by Bajwa on a mere letter from the then sports minister,†he recalled.

    Islah said that he and other Olympians will speak at similar “Meet the Press†events all over the country in the coming days.

    “We gave them a three-day deadline but it seems that the authorities want to persist with the people who led Pakistan to a humiliating 12th position,†he said.

    “We will speak at similar events in various cities as we we’ve been offered those platforms for the betterment of Pakistan hockey.â€

    Islah said that the Olympians are hoping that Qasim Zia will act on their suggestions and sack Bajwa as PHF secretary. “If he does that, we will give him around five to seven names from which a new secretary can be selected.â€

    Ayaz Mehmood said that a young and dynamic person should be roped in as new secretary, who is capable of running Pakistan hockey in a befitting manner.

    http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=229921
     

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