Karachi: The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has said that resumption of bilateral ties with India will help both the countries improve their hockey set-up and also boost the performance of the national teams. PHF secretary, Asif Bajwa signed an agreement with his counterpart, Narendra Batra, secretary of Hockey India, on Saturday under which Pakistan will send its team to India in March 2013 and then India will pay a visit to Pakistan in April.
Bajwa confirmed both series will comprise five matches each. "Hockey is a sport facing challenges in the sub-continent as such there is nothing like regular bilateral Indo-Pak matches to revive interest of the people in the sport and also help improve hockey standards," Bajwa said. PHF president Qasim Zia also expressed hope that the agreement would help both the countries to come close to each other, besides helping in honing the skills of the players.
Narinder Batra said the agreement would be the start of a new chapter in Indo-Pak sporting relations. "It is not just about hockey we are hoping the series will also help bring the people of both countries closer to each other and improve ties," he told reporters in Lahore. He said the participation of Pakistani players in the Indian Hockey League was also a positive development and would improve ties between the countries.
Pakistan recently beat India in the final of the Asian Champions Trophy in Doha, Qatar to add the title to its Asian Games hockey title it presently holds. Bajwa said the federations would sit down and finalize the venues for the home and away matches soon and efforts would be made to provide the best security for the matches and to the players. "We hosted China also sometime back and the matches went smoothly so we are ready to host international teams now," he said.