Pakistan hockey team’s participation is confirmed for the FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup in Bhubaneswar. Even as the team awaits visas from the Indian consulate, the Pakistan Hockey Federation has got a timely shot in the arm to emerge from financial crisis which posed a threat to the team’s participation in the World Cup.
Even as the visa formalities were being completed, poor finances remained a major hurdle for the Pakistan Hockey Team to travel to Bhubaneswar for the World Cup. A negative response to the PHF request for a loan from the fellow governing body for cricket – Pakistan Cricket Board – had heightened the worries.
Amidst such concerns, Haier Electronics (Pakistan) chairman Javed Afridi, who also owns the Pakistan Super League team Peshawar Zalmi, has come to the rescue the Pak hockey. Haier Electronics will be the official sponsor of the Pakistan Hockey Team for the FIH Men’s World Cup in Bhubaneswar.
The sponsorship deal was signed at a ceremony in Lahore on Saturday has confirmed Haier (Pakistan) as Pakistan Hockey Team title sponsors till 2020. The deal will also cover Pakistan’s domestic leagues.
“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 had told Daly Mirror.
The sponsors are optimistic that the tie-up will help Pakistan hockey climb the ranks. “We are recognized throughout the world because of hockey. In the past, Pakistan has won four World Cups, three Champions Trophy and three Olympic gold medals,” Afridi said.
The sponsorship will also fund Pakistan hockey team’s travel 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. As foreign teams decline to visit Pakistan due to terror threat and security concerns, the PHF is forced to host their home games in Argentina, Belgium, England, Germany and the Netherlands.
Pakistan is scheduled to play their opening World Cup match against Germany on December 1. The Odisha Men’s Hockey World Cup in Bhubaneswar will start on November 28.
Pakistan will play the World Cup under the guidance of Pak hockey legend Hasan Sarda, the coach of the team.