Waseem Ahmed was the only player to announce his retirement after Pakistan’s failure to win an Olympic medal in London earlier this year.
However, it took the former captain just a few months to reverse his decision and make himself available for the national team once again. The 35-year-old was a surprise inclusion when the Pakistan Hockey Federation’s (PHF) team management announced probables for the tour of Australia, which includes a nine-a-side event as well as the Champions Trophy, before making the cut for the squad as well.
“I never thought of returning after my retirement,” Waseem, Pakistan’s most-capped hockey player with 359 appearances, told The Express Tribune. “I always wanted to retire with dignity and thought it was the right time after the Olympics. “I was on vacation in Australia with my family when the PHF contacted me. Akhtar Rasool [head coach/manager] contacted me and said the team needed me. And even before I could make up my mind, I was named in the preliminary squad.
“Although I had decided to hang up my boots, I just couldn’t say no to the team management or the PHF. It was because I was told the national team needed me. I’ve returned for Pakistan.”
No future plans
Despite being named in the squad, Waseem hasn’t returned with specific future plans.
“All I want is to perform for my country and help the team to victory. I will continue until the PHF wants me. I don’t have any time period as to how long my comeback will last.”
Speaking on the Champions Trophy, Waseem said a podium finish was not an impossible task for Pakistan despite its poor run of late.
“No doubt it’s a tough event but even a single win in the group can us do wonders. We need a good day which can help us build momentum in the tournament.”
The experienced player said he was completely fit.
“I went for the Malaysia league soon after the Olympics and continued training to stay in loop for further league events.”
Greenshirts to leave tonight
Meanwhile, Pakistan hockey team will depart for Australia tonight for the back-to-back tournaments.
After playing the nine-a-side tournament in Perth from November 22 to 25, the team will feature in the Champions Trophy in Melbourne that takes place from December 1 to 9. Pakistan head coach said that efforts were being made to overcome the team’s weaknesses noted during the Olympics at the training camp that concluded in Lahore last week.
“The players are in good rhythm,” said Rasool ahead of the team’s departure. “Hopefully, the team will show an improved performance in the two tournaments.”
“The players are in good rhythm and are looking fit. Hopefully, the team will show an improved performance
in the nine-a-side event as well as the Champions Trophy.”
“Although I had decided to hang up my boots, I just couldn’t say no to the team management or the PHF. It was because I was told the national team needed me. I’ve returned for Pakistan”
“The team management is aiming to build a strong team for the World Cup and my aim will be to help them achieve that goal. I am confident we will see an improvement in the Champions Trophy.”
Published in The Express Tribune, November 20th, 2012.