In another blow to the national sport, the junior hockey team lost its berth for the World Cup that starts in India this month after the international body of the sport (FIH) announced that the former champions failed to confirm their participation before the deadline.
The FIH, it seems, succumbed to the pressure from the tournament organisers who were keen on avoiding Pakistan in the tournament. The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) claims that they had completed all relevant documentation in time yet weren’t handed out visas by the Indian government. The ongoing political and diplomatic stand-off between two neighbours is having an adverse effect on sporting ties and Pakistan continues to suffer. Hockey is bearing the brunt of the Indian highhandedness which is backed by the governing body of the sport. The financial clout that India enjoys in the sporting industry is letting them off the hook and Pakistan sporting authorities don’t seem to have a solid counter yet.
The international bodies like FIH, International Kabaddi Federation etc., haven’t backed Pakistan and toed the Indian line while the International Cricket Council recently docked Indian women team six points for refusing to play Pakistan in three ODI games. While the Indian attitude is deplorable, Pakistan sporting think tank needs soul-searching of its own. In recent years we have witnessed a depressing paradigm shift and our sporting standards have plummeted so dramatically that our teams and athletes aren’t in demand anywhere! Pakistan sat out of both, the 2014 Hockey World Cup and the Olympics earlier this year hence the PHF’s claim of ‘revival’ in the national sports sounds shrill and even nonsensical at times.
Despite having the legendary Shahbaz Ahmed as the Federation’s secretary, the PHF failed to convince the FIH on its principled stance, the fact is that amid the present blur Pakistan is desperate for sporting administrators who can walk their talk.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 3rd, 2016.
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