LAHORE: Following in the footsteps of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) is also looking for a neutral venue to become a part of the International Hockey Federation’s (FIH) new game-changing Home and Away League. The PHF is negotiating with the England Hockey Federation (EHF) to host Pakistan’s home matches in 2019. Argentina, Australia, Belgium, England, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, China, Italy, USA and Malaysia are interested in becoming part of the FIH Home and Away League, alongside Pakistan, which is scheduled to start in 2019.
“We are trying to avail this opportunity to get a place in the Home and Away League. This will be a massive step in our pursuit to revive hockey in Pakistan. We won’t improve a lot without competing with European teams and this league will give us that opportunity,” PHF secretary general Shahbaz Ahmed Sr said Saturday.
He further revealed that initial talks with the EHF had been positive and a decision would be taken on the venues soon. “The initial talks with the EHF have been extremely positive; Birmingham and Glasgow are the venues offered by the EHF to host Pakistan games. Currently, we are looking at the financial aspects and will make a decision based on that,” he said. Apart from cities in England, Dubai and Muscat are also options available to the PHF for hosting the games but coaches and players alike are in favour of playing in English conditions. The PHF received the official invitation from the FIH just a few days ago and while Shahbaz admits that the federation is locked in a race against time to finalise all the issues before the April 30 deadline, he remains confident the PHF will be able to confirm their participation at the event.