Akhtar terms team participation in CW Games essential

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LAHORE: Pakistan hockey team head coach and manager Akhtar Rasool termed participation of the team in the next year’s 20th Commonwealth Games very essential and advised all those at the helm of affairs to take a swift decision in this regard. Talking to Dawn, Akhtar Rasool said he came to know that there were some hurdles in sending the national team to the Commonwealth Games which he said should be removed to pave the way for team participation in the tough competition.

It may be mentioned here that the national team can only feature in the Commonwealth Games through the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) headed by Arif Hasan and recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

But Arif-led POA is not recognised by the government which is patronising a parallel body of the POA headed by Akram Sahi that has no affiliation with the IOC.

The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) is also following instructions of the government which can not get entrance for any team in any international events since it is the prerogative of the IOC and its affiliated bodies.

The Arif-led POA has also got the deadline for hockey team’s participation in the Commonwealth Games extended until Aug 16 which was otherwise expired on July 29.

The PHF, however, has not made any contact with the Arif-led POA as yet as the former looks towards the government to give its final verdict.

Meanwhile, Akhtar was not ready to make further comment on the prevailing situation and only urged that team participation should be ensured in the Commonwealth Games.

The head coach further said that the training camp was in full swing and Shakeel Abbasi had also rejoined the camp (after being expelled from the training camp for not following team management’s instruction regarding fasting in the month of Ramazan).

However, later, the head coach allowed Shakeel to rejoin the camp.

Akhtar said that coach Tahir Zaman had gone to perform Umrah and would join the camp in the next couple of days.

He also dispelled the impression that the training camp would suffer in absence of Tahir.

The training camp is in progress at the National Hockey Stadium for a challenging contest in the Asia Cup where Pakistan face a must-win situation to qualify for the 2014 World Cup.

Meanwhile, Shakeel said that head coach Akhtar Rasool was a fatherly figure for him and he could not even think to develop differences with him.

He also expressed hope that Pakistan team will try their level best to meet the challenge of winning the Asia Cup.