KARACHI: Indian hockey legend Dhanraj Pillay has urged officials on both sides of the border to step up efforts to revive a bilateral series between the two countries if they want to regain their lost status in the sport.
Pakistan and India were dominant forces until the last decade but are now struggling against the European sides which lead the world rankings now.
The legendary India striker believed that suspension of the bilateral series is mostly responsible for the downfall of the two countries in this sport.
“Pakistan and India play real hockey,” Pillay told The Express Tribune.”The two nations form the Asian style which can still be lethal but unfortunately suspension of hockey ties has hit the sport hard both sides of the border. Both countries play attacking hockey and can learn a lot from each other.”
Pillay, the only player to feature in the Olympics, World Cups, Champions Trophy and Asian Games four times each, stressed on the importance of quick resumption.
“We still have a lot of talent but there is a lack of inspiration among youngsters,” said the 43-year old. “The inspiration can be gained through Pakistan-India matches. We learnt a lot by playing against Pakistan because in our time there were regular series between the two teams.
“I received a pat on my back from my all-time hero Hasan Sardar during India’s tour of Pakistan in my early days. It was a huge encouragement for me and helped me a lot during the rest of my career. The series can bring such magic to many of our youngsters.”
Pillay suggests neutral venue as option
Pillay said that if there were security issues in hosting a bilateral series then the it could also be arranged at a neutral venue.
“We have the option of a neutral venue. Many countries including UAE, Malaysia and Muscat would like to hosts the series,”
The former India captain also urged the International Hockey Federation (FIH) to facilitate federations of both the countries in arranging the series.
“Like cricket, Pakistan-India matches form the biggest rivalry in hockey. The revival of a series between the arch-rivals means a boost to the game and FIH should assist the federations.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 13th, 2011.
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