(By Raja Ibrar)Shahbaz Senior became the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) secretary general on Wednesday. Shahbaz replaced former Olympian Rana Mujahid Ali who resigned from the coveted post after two years in office. Even after being given a three-year extension by the PHF Congress last week, Mujahid’s resignation was not a surprise after a probe committee constituted by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif held the top PHF officials responsible for the national team’s dismal performance at the Hockey World League (HWL) in Antwerp.
Mujahid’s days were numbered the moment Akhtar Rasool resigned and a retired brigadier, very ambitious Khalid Sajjad Khokhar, became the president of the national federation. The appointment of the new PHF secretary was announced at a sham press conference by PHF chief Khalid in Islamabad. Khalid also announced new appointments for the national junior team. Rasheed Junior was named as the chief selector and Tahir Zaman as the head coach of the national junior team. The other members of the junior selection committee are Saeed Khan, Farhat Khan, Shahbaz Junior and Waseem Feroz. The two new assistant coaches of the junior squad are Zeeshan Ashraf and Mohammad Irfan.
The Akhtar-led PHF management was in hot waters for the last two months after Pakistan failed to qualify for the Olympics for the time in their history. Pakistan, who had won Olympic gold three times and World Cup four times, finished eighth in the Olympic qualifying round in Belgium in July. Now they will not be playing in the Rio Olympics 2016 in Brazil. Living in a fool’s paradise, Mujahid was hoping that new PHF president Khalid would work with him. But he soon realised that his ‘services were no longer required’. Khalid and his cronies gave a clear message to Mujahid that they wanted their own man at the post of secretary. And former Olympian Mujahid had no choice. It was wiser for Mujahid if he had resigned with his president Akhtar. But he made himself a laughing stock. “I have tendered my resignation to PHF president Khalid. I have stepped down willingly and without any pressure,” Mujahid told reporters at a news conference at the Pakistan Sports Board in the federal capital. He said he had tried his best to improve Pakistan hockey but decided to step down to give a chance to someone else to work towards that direction. “During my tenure as secretary I faced criticism with decency and courage. However; I appeal to all those Olympians who have been opposing us to allow the new PHF team to work for the betterment of national game.