KARACHI: The decks for Pakistan hockey team’s travel for forthcoming Hockey World Cup in Bhubaneswar (India) have been cleared. Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF), which was going through financial crisis, have finally found a sponsor.
While the Pakistan Cricket Board had turned down PHF’s loan request, Peshawar Zalmichairman and CEO of Haier Electronics (Pakistan) Javed Afridi stepped up to sponsor the Pakistan hockey team’s travel to Bhubaneswar.
In a ceremony held in Lahore on Saturday, Haier (Pakistan) signed an MoU with the PHF as title sponsors till 2020.
“It’s our national game and it must be promoted. Even if the sponsorship does not help anyway, I will not mind, the cause of the national sport must be upheld. I would hope for an India-Pakistan final and I will be travelling to Bhubaneswar for the World Cup. Hockey is rooted in our culture and I felt it was my responsibility to help the side,” Afridi told Mirror yesterday.
Pakistan now wait for Indian authorities to issue the visas. PHF secretary Shahbaz Ahmed had told Mirror last week that they had already applied for the visas well in advance
PHF may see this as a huge relief. Besides the World Cup in Bhubaneswar which begins on November 28, Pakistan hockey team will also be travelling all over the world for the International Hockey Federation’s pet project the FIH Pro League which will begin in January and go on till June.
With foreign teams unwilling to travel to Pakistan for their home matches, Pakistan will play their ‘home’ games in Argentina, Belgium, England, Germany and the Netherlands.
Pakistan will play their opening World Cup match against Germany on December 1. It should also be pointed out that the last time Pakistan played in Bhubaneswar their players came under heavy criticism from all quarters for making obscene gestures before the crowd after beating India in aChampions Trophy match in 2014.