After a prolonged wait, the greenshirts finally got the blue-turf at the National Stadium in Lahore. However, the development of the turf has not been welcomed by the national team players, who are questioning the efficacy and timing of the new surface.
The Pakistan hockey team’s probables are currently undergoing a training camp for next month’s Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia, in their first activity on the new surface.
The government of Punjab sanctioned the grant for the new turf, which was expected to be laid at the end of 2011, prior to the 2012 London Olympics — the purpose of the initiative in the first place.
Unfortunately, the project was repeatedly delayed due to several issues such as the dispute with contractors, which deprived players from training on the new turf before a mega competition.
National players have voiced out their discontent regarding the timing of the installation of the blue turf.
“We didn’t get it when we were in dire need of the new turf,” a senior player told The Express Tribune. “The blue turf was vital before the Olympics and now it is not that useful because world-class venues have maintained the standard green turf.
“We feel that laying the blue turf – which is not a common surface at the international stage – at our main stadium is not a smart move.”
Players fear injury due to uneven surface
Another senior player said despite the delay, the blue-turf was not in good shape.
“Its surface is uneven,” said the player. “It can result in injury to any player anytime.”
He said the team management was planning to shift the training camp but they later decided to stick to the venue.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Hockey Federation’s (PHF) Secretary Asif Bajwa appeared content with the laying of the new turf, terming it a positive development.
“The blue turf has not become obsolete after the Olympics,” Bajwa told The Express Tribune.
“Many venues have the blue turf, for instance the Azlan Shah Cup (in Ipoh, Malaysia) will be played on the same surface. It’s an addition in hockey and it’s good we finally have it in our country.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 15th, 2013.