Worst yet to come for our hockey, warns Samiullah


ISLAMABAD: Former hockey stalwart Samiullah Khan has feared a goal-scoring spree by Australia against struggling Pakistan in the last pool match of the ongoing Birmingham Commonwealth Games on August 4, saying the country required a systematic development to halt the hockey’s falling standard that has virtually crippled the game’s progress internationally. In a telephonic interview with ‘The News’ from Birmingham where he watched Pakistan suffering one of the worst defeats against Black Sticks, Sami said that there were fears of even the worst defeat against Australia.

“ I have fears that if Pakistan continue to play the way they did against New Zealand, chances of an even bigger defeat against Australia are there. I am surprised to see defensive and attacking errors that were visible during the two matches Pakistan have played so far. Pakistan conceded almost all the four goals against New Zealand through defensive errors. Had it not been for the goalkeeper Akmal’s excellent display under the bar, New Zealand could have added a few more. Yet a 4-1 defeat from a team that used to be a favourite hunting outfit for the Greenshirts, is really surprising.”

Sami added that an exciting brand of hockey by the Greenshirts was never on display during the two matches in the Commonwealth Games so far. “We lacked strength in all the departments of the game. Midfield and forward line cohesion was never there. So many defensive loopholes and attacking flaws crippled Pakistan’s ability to initiate result-oriented moves and keep a vigilant eye on defense.”

The former stalwart said that there was no fault of players for the hockey’s falling standard in the country. “I am concerned about some leading players who have been trying hard to earn a name for Pakistan hockey. The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) is not looking after the leading players financially as they have no jobs to look after their families. Under the tied situation, they are making all-out efforts to keep Pakistan hockey alive which is creditable.”

Sami, however, said that there was no quick fix in Pakistan hockey. “Now we have been relegated to No 18 in the world and even struggle to beat teams like South Africa and Scotland. A revolution is required to put Pakistan hockey back on the track. At least five to six years of intensive struggle and systematic progress is needed for this purpose. We need to develop hockey from the grassroots with more opportunities for the youngsters to make progress at provincial and national levels. There is a need to provide financial cover to the talented players so that they could devote time and energy for hockey. The national sport has become a professional game which requires professional handling.”

Sami called on the powers in the federal government to come open with all the details of PHF earning and expenditures for the last eight years. “What the government has given to the PHF during the last eight years must be shared with the public. In fact the audit report must be made public.

There are no two opinions that hockey requires finances and these must be spent on hockey developments and on players rather than on pleasure trips.”



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