Wednesday December 08, 2021

Zahir Shah vows to help KP hockey players

April 11, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has always been abuzz with hockey activities. Even in the toughest of days for the national sport, hockey in the province has never stopped.

When Pakistan failed to make it to the 2016 Rio Olympics because of their absence from the 2014 World Cup in Holland, hockey slummed to a new low in the country. No youngster was willing to take up the sport seriously and instead started preferring other games. Even in that time of uncertainty, hockey action in Khyber Pa­kh­tunkhwa did not take a back seat.

With Peshawar being the hub of hockey activities, youngsters pursue the sport there more in hope of good days ahead. Their hopes and aspirations are backed by two icons of hockey in the region — current KP Hockey Association President Zahir Shah and former IG Police Saeed Khan, who has selfless love for hockey and is often seen devoting time, energy and financial support to deserving players.

Even in days of his police service, he was seen at the grounds, backing teams of various age groups.

Zahir Shah has sacrificed his entire life to the sport and it was his influence and unprecedented interest that has kept hockey activities going in the province. Over 100 players in different age groups were still playing the game in Peshawar before COVID-19 crippled the world. Under instructions of the provincial government all hockey activities came to a standstill for the very first time.

“Hockey activities have never stopped in Peshawar. Even in days of terrorist attacks our players did not stop playing. Hardly a day had passed when I missed going to the ground — either to watch matches or to monitor training or practice. Even in toughest of days when — except some parts of Karachi — all clubs stopped playing, we kept the activities running.

“However, this has happened for the first time and we are not even sure when things will resume. As KPHA president I have instructed all concerned to follow the government’s orders and stay home. Whatever training they can manage, they have been told to do them at home.”

Zahir Shah said majority of the players were professionals and had no other source of income. “Now when the action has stopped, they need financial support. This is my promise that I will not let them look for any outside financial help. The KPHA with the help of its well-wishers will make all arrangements to look after the deserving players in this lockdown period. “I am keeping a close contact with those who need support and they will not be let down. These players are our asset.”

Zahir Shah called on all sports administrators to look after the players and related support staff. “Their well-being is your responsibility. It is a testing time and we must come forward to help them.”