A Football World Cup without Brazil, Argentina or Germany is almost unthinkable. The same way a Hockey World Cup without Pakistan was almost unbelievable. But the fact that Pakistan had failed to qualify for previous World Cup portrays sorry state of affairs of Pakistan hockey. This year Pakistan hockey team even has failed to qualify for the next Summer Olympics.
The fall of Hockey in Pakistan is not quite as dramatic or sudden as it now seems to be. It’s been a slow and painful decline that began when Pakistan not only lost the World Cup title in the 1986 World Cup in England, but also came 11th in the 12-team-event.
Pakistan hockey had reached pinnacle heights, winning two World Cups, two Champions Trophy titles and an Olympic gold within a span of just six years from 1978 to 1984. Actually in 1982 that Pakistan seemed to have reached world hockey’s Everest, when they humiliated old rivals India in New Delhi with 7-1 massacre in front of the then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
Unfortunately, Pakistan despite the fact that it was the world’s number one side oddly had just two AstroTurf stadiums since much of the hockey was now being played on AstroTurf. Hockey clubs in the country still played and trained their players on grass and these players struggled when they graduated to playing top level local tournaments on AstroTurf.
Hockey has become a very fast pace game and since the introduction of AustroTruff, physical fitness became the most important aspect of the game while one of the most important reason for our downfall is politics which has damaged us in every sphere of life. Mismanagement by the government and by the authorities of hockey federation is obviously a true cause of the decline.
Today Pakistan is on the 13th position in the world ranking with 895 points, players of hockey team have announced not to participate in the forthcoming Asian games in protest over the non-issuance of their due daily allowance, showing a terrible and disappointed scenario for national game and for players too.
Ironically official national sport of the country is in shambles. Good quality Astroturf pitches and handsome incentive for the players is the need of time. It definitely needs and deserves national efforts and the time for that is ‘now’.
Players must be provided with best facilities and incentives to promote hockey in Pakistan.