Wasim Feroze, former left-out and part of the Pakistan side that won bronze in the 1992 Olympics, has blamed the hockey federation’s inefficiency for the state the national side is in right now, adding that it will take at least 20 years for the team to regain its lost status.
Pakistan has not won an Olympic medal in hockey since 1992 and its last World Cup medal was a gold in 1994. The team won the Asian Games in 2010.
“There was constant chopping and changing by the federations after the 1994 glory which is why the national side stands where it does today,” Feroze told The Express Tribune. “It will take at least 20 years for the Greenshirts to rule the world again.”
Feroze added that teams from the educational institutions used to be stronger in his days because there was a substantial quota for athletes which has now been reduced considerably and has affected youth’s inclination towards sports.
‘Current crop is lucky to be in the team’
Meanwhile, the Olympian added that those who have made the cut for the London Olympics were lucky to be in the squad.
“Back in the 70s and 80s, a player had to wait for a decade to become an Olympian. Today, those with a handful of matches under their belts get to do that. Around 80% of those in the team would not have made the cut had they been playing in that era. In fact, they would not even be on the bench.
“I failed to be part of the squad that took part in the 1984 and 1988 Olympics. There was such fierce competition for slots that I finally managed to make it to the 1992 Olympics.”
‘Pakistan should play for pride only’
Feroze added that the national side, led by world record goal-scorer Sohail Abbas, will not be able to produce any heroics in London and expecting a medal from them will be ‘foolish’. They should, instead, play for pride and maintain their ranking, according to the Olympian.
“The selection committee has recalled the seniors thinking but they can make a difference.
“The likes of Rehan Butt, Abbas and Mohammad Waseem didn’t bring any glory to the side when they were at their peak so it’s impossible for them to do so now.
“We created stars in our days via our wins. Now, we’re losing to the poorest of opponents.”
Meanwhile, Feroze recalled his younger days when people used to term his love for hockey a waste of time.
“The boys in my area used to play cricket but I used to play hockey by putting stones on the road in order to improve my dribbling. My family and friends never believed in me and thought I was wasting my time.”
Feroze went onto represent Pakistan in 335 matches while scoring 97 goals but attributed his success to watching videos of Samiullah and observing Hasan Sardar from the sidelines.
“Sardar inspired me to take hockey as a profession and luckily I went onto play alongside him.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2012.