The fall and fall of hockey  

Published: September 3, 2018

KARACHI: Pakistan’s recent performance in the Asian Games Hockey is nothing much to write home about. That the national team failed to reach the victory stand dashed all the hopes of an Asiad gold. Our hockey team did win all the round games, but lost the semi-final to a far more junior Japanese team, failing to score even once. However, there were still hopes that the team would beat the archrival India for the third position, but it was not to be. The Indians beat us by a score of 2-1 and salvaged some pride, unlike us.

Hockey used to be the pride of Pakistan once. There were times when hardly any international title would go to any other team. We were Asian Champions, World Champions and Olympic Champions at the same time. Especially during the years from 1978 to 1982, playing against Pakistan would mean a certain defeat. Pakistan hockey produced world class players like Islahuddin, Shehnaz Sheikh, Akhtar Rasool, Munawwer-us-Zaman, Saleem Sherwani, Manzoorul Hasan, Samiullah, Kaleemullah, Hanif Khan, Manzoor Junior, Hasan Sardar, Shahbaz Ahmed, Waseem Feroze, Mansoor Ahmed, Khalid Bashir, Sohail Abbas and others. But for a long time now, the game of hockey has only been bringing defeats to us. The national game has turned out to be a humiliation for the whole nation. And there is no stopping that free fall.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, the Patron-in-Chief of Pakistan hockey, must pay attention to the affairs of hockey as well, just as he is doing in case of cricket. One hopes that if Mr Khan, one of the best sportsmen the country has ever produced, focuses on hockey, he can set things right.

Ashar Khalid

Published in The Express Tribune, September 3rd, 2018.

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