Pakistan: Pakistan hockey team’s preparations in jeopardy due to visa issues

36259 3389290 updates - Pakistan: Pakistan hockey team's preparations in jeopardy due to visa issues - ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s preparations for the Nations Challenge Hockey Cup starting in the city of Gniezno (Poland) on May 31 could be affected due to delay in issuance of Dutch visas.
Pakistan hockey team. – Facebook/FlashSukan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s preparations for the Nations Challenge Hockey Cup starting in the city of Gniezno (Poland) on May 31 could be affected due to delay in issuance of Dutch visas.

Pakistan team has been booked to travel to Amsterdam on May 20 but due to an unwarranted delay in the issuance of visas by the Dutch Embassy in Islamabad, the touring squad may not be in a position to travel today (Monday) to start training camp as scheduled.

“Yes, we have not been able to obtain Holland visas so far. Though, the embassy has promised to hasten up formalities, chances of getting the travelling documents ready by Monday look remote. In that case, we would not be in a position to start the training as per schedule (May 22) in Amsterdam,” a source within the touring squad, when contacted, said.

The source claimed that efforts were on to secure visas in time before the team’s departure on Monday.

When it comes to touring European countries, the embassies in Pakistan have always been non-cooperative in the issuance of timely visas to leading Pakistan athletes, knowing well that the majority of hockey players usually play European leagues and there are tough measures in place for players and officials. At all cost, the team members will be back in time after completing Nations Challenge Cup in Poland following the training camp in Holland.

The worst part is that the spineless Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) has absolutely no relations with embassies (despite offering its facilities many times to these embassies) to help the team out at this juncture.

Recently a lesser-known Dutch Hockey Club travelled to Pakistan for a series of matches. The hockey authorities and PSB extended all possible help to the tourists to make their trip comfortable and trouble-free. However, so far uncertainty prevails over Pakistan’s team’s timely departure for important camp training in Holland that also includes one-off Test against the host country’s national team.

Oltmans is already in Holland making final arrangements for the camp training. It was the team’s head coach who proposed a ten-day training to build up momentum for the Nations Challenge Cup starting on May 31.

In a recent talk with The News, Oltmans said that the cup is very important for Pakistan hockey prospective.

“Winning the Nations Cup is all the more important from Pakistan’s perspective as the title will take the team into the FIH Pro League next season. I have proposed a ten-day training camp in Holland ahead of the Nations Cup to acclimatize well for the event.”

Oltmans also shared the outcome of his talks with Dutch Hockey, revealing that the team has agreed to play against Pakistan in a one-off Test during a training session in Holland.

“It is a good development. I am trying to get more matches but at the moment one Test against the Dutch national team has been finalised.” 

The head coach termed France as the main challenge to Pakistan in a quest to win the cup.

“Besides other teams, France are expected to pose the main threat to the Pakistan team mainly because they are preparing for the Paris Olympics and have improved leaps and bounds in recent times as a team.”

The federal government under special instructions of the prime minister has already released Rs59 million for the camp training in Holland and participation of the national squad in the Nations Cup.

Abdul Mohi Shah is a senior reporter for The News

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