KARACHI: More than two weeks after the Greenshirts finished seventh at the 2012 London Olympics, former Pakistan captain Waseem Ahmed has blamed the Pakistan Hockey Federation’s (PHF) decision to sack Dutch coach Michel van dan Heuvel for the team’s failure to win a medal.
The 35-year old, who announced his retirement from international hockey at the conclusion of the Olympics, said the dismissal of Heuvel just a few months before the mega event cost the team dearly.
Heuvel, who was contracted till the London Olympics, was sacked by the PHF in March as the federation claimed a breach of contract by the Dutch.
However, Waseem, a three-time hockey Olympian, said the move was a ‘huge mistake’ on part of the PHF.
“It was a blunder which damaged our campaign badly,” Wasim told The Express Tribune. “The PHF should have continued with Heuvel as this time we had a good chance to finish at the podium because we were a better side. The Dutch was with the team for around 18 months and his removal a few months before the mega event derailed our preparations.
“It is not just my view but the whole team feels the same.”
The seasoned player, however, said he was not blaming local coaches — Akhtar Rasool and Khwaja Junaid.
“They worked very hard with us in Abbottabad and in Cannock. But Heuvel was more professional and we needed him. Training under a qualified coach makes a lot of difference and separates world class teams from average sides.”
Former captain suggests foreign league to youngsters
Meanwhile, Waseem, under whom Pakistan won their last Champions Trophy medal in 2004, advised the PHF to encourage youngsters in their bid to feature in foreign leagues.
“If the PHF wants the betterment of hockey, they should help youngsters feature in foreign leagues — especially the ones being played in European countries.
“This will prove to be a beneficial experience to young players and help in preparing them for major international competitions. It will also help them financially which will also have a positive impact on their performance.”
Waseem also suggested to the PHF to arrange an international league to promote hockey in the country.
Seeks coaching future
Commenting on his future plans, the former captain said he will continue to feature in foreign leagues, while preparing to become a high-profile coach.
“I also asked the PHF to send my name for high-profile coaching courses.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 20th, 2012.