ISLAMABAD-Former hockey player Col (R) Ahmed Nawaz Malik has urged the IPC ministry and Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) to replace the Naseer Bunda Hockey Stadium astroturf, which is in shambles.

Talking to The Nation, Col (R) Ahmed said: “Naseer Bunda is a well-known and lone international-standard hockey stadium in Islamabad. It is also a historic venue, where some of the greatest hockey players of the country had played, but it is quite pinching that the astroturf of the stadium had well passed its playing age and should have been replaced much earlier,” he said.

“I am completely satisfied with the arrangements being made by the PSB, but my lone and most important concern is poor state of Naseer Bunda astroturf, as it could destroy the careers of the youngsters, who are not used to play on astroturf while playing on such pathetic astroturf, they could receive serious injuries,” he added.

Col (R) Ahmed said he knew the IPC minister and PSB DG were keen sports lovers and athletes themselves so they must understand the situation and immediately issue order to change the turf. “If the players will not be facilitated fully, they couldn’t be attracted towards playing and perusing hockey as career. The PHF is very seriously working on grassroots level hockey while the current PHF top brass wants to take Pakistan hockey back to old glory days and determined to provide genuine players maximum opportunities.”

To a query, he said: “If players get injured naturally, there would be no worries but most of the injuries witnessed during the championship were due to pathetic condition of the turf.”

“I strongly challenge all those so-called hockey lovers and pundits, who describe U-18 hockey a waste f time and boring to keep their records straight. The U-18 is the right and actual platform for the national team and it’s a nursery, which can provide a number of players to the national team. Despite the fact the event is only two-days old, I have already witnessed a few players, who are bound to play for the national team. If provided with facilities and trained well, they can be future champions of Pakistan hockey,” Ahmed added.

He accepted there were flaws in age scrutiny and a number of complaints were lodged in this regard. “We have used all recourses and the best available options to ensure justice, but let me assure all, if I am given this responsibility next time around, I will ensure nobody have any complaint in this regard,” Ahmed concluded.