When will our hockey federation learn from its mistakes?

Published: April 18, 2016
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Pakistan’s poor performance in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup saw them finish fifth in a tournament featuring seven teams. PHOTO COURTESY: MALAYSIAN HOCKEY CONFEDERATION

Pakistan’s poor performance in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup saw them finish fifth in a tournament featuring seven teams. PHOTO COURTESY: MALAYSIAN HOCKEY CONFEDERATION

The Pakistan hockey team and management need to pull up their socks and start to learn from their mistakes – a statement they themselves repeat after every failure – before it gets too late and the sport ceases to exist in the country.

The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) management, including President Brigadier (retired) Khalid Sajjad Khokhar, has been constantly retelling after every game that the squad is young and will learn from its mistakes. But as soon as the Greenshirts don the national colours, they find themselves repeating the same mistakes all over again, so much so that it’s starting to appear as a pattern.

Pakistan hockey in a shambles

If this trend was a one-off scenario it could have been acceptable, however, the trend somehow manages to repeat itself every tournament and leaves a person wondering as to what exactly it is that goes wrong which makes a mockery out of the four-time world champions.

While player composure and training methods can certainly be improved upon, what does a person do when the PHF discards coaches and management like tissue paper?

Like all other government department, the federation has seen a massive re-shuffle in its management following the Olympic qualification debacle last year. A brand new administration took over with promises of bringing the sport out of its current slump.

While the objective maybe commendable, the possibility of achieving it leaves many question marks.

In trying to find a winning combination, the PHF has changed three coaches in a span of eight months. At first, Qamar Ibrahim was appointed as the head coach during the National Championships in Karachi which took place on December 27, 2015, but just a day later, he was demoted to the post of the coach, which inevitably resulted in his resignation.

His successor, Hanif Khan then took over the reins and started prepping the team. However, another coach, Mohammad Saqlain, was brought in to conduct a one-month training camp for the South Asian Games. But because Pakistan managed to bring home gold at the regional mega event, and that too after defeating India 1-0 in the final, the federation did not get much beef about the change in personnel.

The team returned to Pakistan extremely high on confidence. However, another change, this time Hanif leaving the camp and Mohammad Khawaja Junaid taking over shook the team to its core and the results — Pakistan finishing fifth out of seven — proved that the change in leadership led to the Malaysian debacle.

The constant change in management is nothing new for the PHF, who under the previous management led by Akhtar Rasool, changed coaches at their own whims.

Junaid kept saying to anyone who was willing to listen that Pakistan will learn from their mistakes, while the new PHF management claimed that they too will learn from the mistakes of the previous management but till now, the only thing they have learnt is how to make exactly the same mistakes.

Consolation win: Pakistan rout lowly Japan 4-1

These constant changes have left the players confused and have contributed heavily to their recent decline.

The PHF needs to be consistent; Pakistan hockey needs to be consistent. It is when we achieve consistency can we actually move forward. Otherwise, we will keep running in circles.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 18th,  2016.

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Reader Comments (2)

  • Hashir
    Apr 18, 2016 - 9:44AM

    Its is indeed a very unfortunate affair. I am living in a town close to Perth and even over here there are 30+ clubs registered and if you see them playing you will be amazed that they can give pakistani team a run for their money anytime.
    I am a great hockey fan and lover and played hockey a lot during my University and college time in Karachi.
    We need to work on a comprehensive plan to re-establish hockey clubs especially in big cities and offer full-time jobs to these players. Majority of the players will come from low socio-economic background and if we guaranteed them jobs and establish Leagues which India has done, nothing can be achieved even if we bring ChalesWorth to coach pakistan.
    I hope for the betterment of Pakistan hockey.Recommend

  • Fuzail Zubaid Ahmad
    Apr 18, 2016 - 2:26PM

    There is nothing wrong with PHF, or at least PHF is not responsible for declining hockey standards in Pakistan. There is a sure dearth of talent because sportsmen are headed into more rewarding sports like cricket. Same can be easily said about Squash.Recommend

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