KARACHI: Former hockey players have blasted the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) following the appointment of Dutchman Michel Van Den Heuvel as Pakistan’s national coach.
The appointment came after months of negotiations and discussions with various coaches following Pakistan’s bottom-place finish in the 2010 Hockey World Cup.
According to Olympian Shahnaz Sheikh, the PHF management has hired the services of a ‘third- grade’ coach to take the blame off their shoulders.
“The Dutch coach would not have a magic wand that he can use to improve the team in just four months for the Asian Games,” said Sheikh.
“I think our team needs to polish its skills and get physical training but if the federation hires a full-time European coach, it shows that the team will start playing drill hockey which is the opposite of our style of playing.”
Another Olympian Islahuddin Siddiqui agreed with Sheikh’s views saying that Pakistan had been hiring Dutch coaches for the last few years but none of them produced good results for the country which, in itself, was a sign for the PHF not to get another Dutchman.
Pakistan’s current hockey players, however, lauded the appointment, saying that it was a good sign for the national squad before the Asian Games.
“It was necessary to get a professional coach for more than a year,” former Pakistan captain Zeeshan Ashraf told The Express Tribune.
“Previously, the federation would keep switching coaches but it is a good sign that a coach will spend sufficient time with the team and will understand the players.”
Shakeel Abbasi, too, felt that the team is expecting the new coach to come up with a plan to improve Pakistan’s show in world hockey.
He said that the last Dutch coach Roelant Oltmans had worked very hard with the team and the two-year appointment will allow the new coach to fully implement his plans.
In the same stream, forward Rehan Butt said that getting a foreign coach was the only way to save Pakistan hockey as local coaches lacked professionalism.
The PHF Secretary Asif Bajwa confirmed that Heuvel will begin with assessing the team in the camp that starts in Karachi today and his suggestions will be taken into consideration by the selection committee before the squad for the China and Europeans tours is selected.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 21st, 2010.