Olympians campaign to revive Pakistan hockey

September 19th, 2008 - 10:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Karachi, Sep 19 (IANS) Pakistan’s former Olympians have kick-started a campaign to revive national game hockey by demanding the sacking of Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) president Zafarullah Khan Jamali, a former Prime Minister.Blaming Jamali for the hockey slump in the country, the Olympians want the government to install a veteran hockey player as the PHF president.

Over two dozen former Olympians and international players gathered here at a local hotel Thursday evening, chanting slogans “Go Jamali Go”.

“Jamali is the wrong man for the job and he has to go,” said celebrated striker Hassan Sardar as others shouted in approval.

“Pakistan hockey is still alive because the people love the game. We won’t allow it to die at the hands of incompetent officials,” said Hassan, who was supported by former stars Rasheedul Hassan, Saleem Sherwani, Nasir Ali, Akhtarul Islam and Waseem Feroze.

The Olympians have been irked by Pakistan’s dismal eighth-position finish at last month’s Olympic Games in Beijing and Jamali’s refusal to own responsibility for the team’s poor performance.

The stalwarts asked the Prime Minister, who is also PHF’s chief patron, to sack Jamali and appoint in his place Qasim Zia, a member of the 1984 Olympic gold medal-winning squad.

Qasim is widely tipped to take over as PHF president, but Jamali has reportedly been pleading for his retention as PHF chief.

Akhtar, a former Olympian, said that Pakistan’s hockey community will have to sit down and find solutions while Rasheedul said the former players were always willing to help.

Former captain Nasir said players have not done enough for hockey’s cause, while Sherwani, a gold medallist of the Los Angeles Games, said Jamali is a dictator and hoped the democratic government will sack him.

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