Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) Secretary General Rana Mujahid has said that hockey is Pakistan’s national game and he is optimistic about its bright future.

He said that despite of shortage of funds the national team is participating in the Hockey World League Semifinals (Qualifying round of the Rio Olympics-2016) to be played at Antwerp, Belgium from June 20.

Addressing a press conference here at the National Hockey Stadium on Sunday, Rana Mujahid, flanked by Danish Kaleem, coach, Kh. Ammad Khalid Sikka and Ahsen Sikka, representatives of the official sponsors of the national team, thanked the Ministry for Inter-provincial Coordination and Pakistan Sports Board for taking keen interest to ensure the national team’s tour which looked bleak in the wake of shortage of funds.

“I personally thank the IPC Minister Riaz Pirzada and Secretary Mohammed Ijaz Chaudhary for quickly addressing our appeal and facilitating the PHF to undertake the tour”, he said.

When asked that if he had any complain against anyone because provision of funds has been delayed long despite of the approval of the IPC ministry, Rana said he had no complain against anyone and hoped that hurdles would be removed soon.

The secretary general also appealed to the corporate sector to invest a portion of their funds in sports to uplift the standard of sports. “Unlike India and European countries corporate sector’s sponsorship in sports is meager”, Rana lamented.

Meanwhile, the PHF retained Mohammed Imran and Shafqat Rasool as the captain and vice-captain of the national team. Rana said Imran and Shafqat have been retained after consultation with the PHF President Akhtar Rasool Chawdhry.

To a question, Rana said the issue of players’ daily allowance would be solved amicably with the PSB. “The PSB rules allow $20 as daily allowance to the athletes but as per the PHF rules we pay $150 to our players. We have successfully pleaded our case in a civilized way that since the national team’s tour has been arranged at our request so the players should be paid their daily allowance as per the PHF rules”, he informed and hoped that the matter would be solved soon.

Team captain Mohammed Imran said the players had no worries over their daily allowances as they know the financial plight of the PHF. “We are sure that once the PHF gets funds we would be paid our dues”, he hoped.

He said he was hopeful that the national team would qualify for the Rio Olympics. “We have worked hard on our grey areas and focused to maintain a high level of physical fitness and I am optimistic that we shall bring happy news on our return from Belgium”, Imran asserted.

Kh. Ammad Sikka, sponsors’ representative, said his company would offer lucrative prizes once the team qualified for the Olympics. “Our company observed that hockey has been ignored since long so they decided to help the national game”, he said.