I am working on my keeping: Imran Butt

Pakistan hockey goal-keeper hopeful of containing opposition at HWL.


Fawad Hussain June 19, 2013
I’ve worked a lot with our coaches since the Azlan Shah Cup and my target is to block the maximum number of moves to avoid a repeat of the Azlan Shah Cup, says Butt. PHOTO: AFP

KARACHI: Pakistan hockey has produced great goal-keepers in the past with Shahid Ali Khan and Ahmed Alam’s names standing out.

Currently, Imran Butt and Imran Shah are the team’s preferred options but both remain a long way away from being counted in the same bracket.

The Greenshirts’ defence has been vulnerable and is pale in comparison to powerhouses like Australia and the Netherlands. At the six-nation Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia where Pakistan finished last, the team conceded 20 goals in just six matches, while scoring 11. However, Butt, 25 who is more likely to be preferred in the upcoming Hockey World League (HWL), was hopeful of improving the numbers.

“There is no doubt that a goal-keeper has a lot of responsibility,” the 25-year old told The Express Tribune. “The rule changes that favour goal-scoring have added a burden on us. I’ve worked a lot with our coaches since the Azlan Shah Cup and my target is to block the maximum number of moves to avoid a repeat of the Azlan Shah Cup. I’ve worked with Alam and now Arshad Hussain is trying to bring an improvement. Tahir Zaman, who is a highly qualified FIH coach, is also working with us along modern techniques.”

Butt, younger brother of former captain Rehan Butt, said the return of senior players will also help in improving the team’s weak area.

“The management included youngsters by resting the senior players in Azlan Shah Cup. Their return will improve our defence and also minimise attacks from the opposition. No goal-keeper can block all moves and is likely to concede at least half of the attempts made.”

‘One major title is all I dream of’ 

The goal-keeper, playing hockey since the age of 13, said an Olympic or World Cup medal was his target as an international player.

“My dream is to stand on top of the podium and receive a medal,” said Butt, adding that he drew inspiration from former goal-keeper Salman Akbar. “Pakistan hockey has earned a lot of achievements in the past but we need another big laurel to boost the national game.”

Published in The Express Tribune, June 20th, 2013.

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