Pakistan hockey coach Rehan Butt turns out as player

Pakistan’s retired hockey international Rehan Butt, who was appointed coach of the national team taking part in the 12th South Asian Games, has turned out as a player in the team’s first two matches, including Monday’s victory against India.

Butt was integrated in to the team as one of the players in original squad, Samiullah, was not granted visa for India   -  REUTERS

Pakistan’s retired hockey international Rehan Butt, who was appointed coach of the national team taking part in the 12th South Asian Games, has turned out as a player in the team’s first two matches, including Monday’s game against India.

“The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) asked me to enter my name as a player because one of the selected players Samiullah was not granted visa for India,” said Rehan Butt.

“I was forced to take the field as a player but I have enjoyed the experience,” Butt said after Pakistan’s 2-1 win over India in the Games in Guwahati on Monday.

A spokesman for the PHF said the squad was made up of 15 players but head coach Muhammad Saqlain had requested us to allow him to use Butt as the 16th player to execute his plans properly in the Games.

“According to Saqlain he had prepared the team for the games with 16 players in mind and he couldn’t change that strategy now so we permitted Butt to play in the event,” he said.

Butt said since no other standby player could get a visa at such a short notice, he had agreed to enter as a player.

“But it is a great experience being coach and player and has allowed me to look at the game from a new dimension,” he added.

PHF secretary Shahbaz Ahmed however told the Pakistani media that he was not happy with the refusal of visa for Samiullah.

He noted that Pakistan had agreed to take part in SAG after clearance from the government and still visas were being denied to some players.

Butt also played in Pakistan’s 3-0 win over Sri Lanka.