Pakistan hockey faces crucial challenges

Pakistan hockey is passing through a difficult phase and any mistake will be catastrophic for the sport. At the international level, Pakistan team is not playing well. Our standard of hockey is not up to the mark.

The Green-shirts have put up poor show wherever they went for playing. But at the same time, the fact is that our domestic hockey system is gaining momentum and strength day by day and due to some concrete steps of current PHF management, a strong foundation of national game has been set up during the last two years.

The year 2018 will be crucial for our hockey because a number of important events are going to be held and the Green-shirts will be part of all these events. First, a World XI is coming to Pakistan in January to play two or three international matches, which will help PHF revive international hockey in the country.

The Green-shirts are to participate in Sultan Azlan Shah hockey tournament, Commonwealth Games, and the World Cup 2018. They are also to appear in Asian Games, which will serve as qualifiers for Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Thus, PHF should be alert and aware that they have to take serious action to improve the performance of the national hockey team in coming events because the nation wants to see fighting spirit in the team. If they lose matches with dignity, after giving a tough competition, it is okay. But no one can digest such defeats as they suffered against Australia recently and even against Japan.

Besides, PHF is going to organise Pakistan Hockey League this year in the country. The boys should be ready to play fast and advanced hockey in the event. It will be an ideal chance for them to boost their performance.

PHF high officials have started the preparation for World Hockey XI visit to Pakistan in January. Informed sources in PHF said that the names of the players of World XI are being finalised these days. PHF secretary Shahbaz Ahmed has used his connections to invite players of different countries.

The sources said that most likely the World XI players would be invited from Holland, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Germany, England, Japan, South Korea, and Malaysia. It is expected that the squad will comprise 14 players.

The matches are likely to be played in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.

The interior ministry has given the PHF green signal to organise what would be one of the most important international hockey events in Pakistan.

The sources said that the World XI would be finalised and announced in one or two days. The preparation for the ceremony of Hall of Fame awards is also going on.

Five foreign hockey greats and as many Pakistani hockey legends will get Hall of Fame awards at a glittering ceremony likely to be held in Karachi.

The details of Pakistan Hockey League (PHL) will be finalised after the tour of World Hockey XI.

The PHF sources further said that the FIH is helping Pakistan in its efforts to revive international hockey in the country.

The PHF is waiting for the response of the countries whose players are to be part of the World XI. The World Hockey team will play matches in Pakistan in the second week of January.

Australia’s Ric Charlesworth, Holland’s Paul Litjens and Floris Jan Bovelander, and Germany’s Christian Blunck are likely to receive the awards.

Khokhar said that the FIH had cooperated with the PHF to help it revive international hockey here.

The PHF secretary Olympian Shahbaz Ahmed has convinced current stars to come and play in Pakistan. The PHF secretary says the success of the World XI visit will help them in organising Pakistan Hockey League (PHL) in April and May.

The PHF has contacted some famous players for the World XI and expects Jamie Dwyer and Glenn Turner of Australia, Tom Boon of Belgium, and Jeroen Hertzberger, Teun de Nooijer, and Jaap Stockmann of Holland to join it.

“The World XI tour and the PHL will give our players competitive hockey experience which will help them in the big hockey events of the year,” he added.

The secretary also said that the PHF had decided to organise a four-nation tournament before the PHL to start international hockey on a regular basis in the country and “give our players an opportunity to play maximum international matches before the big events. The names of the participating countries and schedule of the matches will be decided later”.

Meanwhile, the PHF is also preparing to hold the national hockey championship in Sukkur in the middle of December. It is expected that 18-20 teams will participate in the event, including the four provinces and a combined team of Azad Jammmu and Kashmir (AJK), FATA, and Islamabad.

Naveed Alam, director development and domestic of PHF, confirmed that the national championship would be held from December 15-30 in Sukkur, where all facilities are available, including a synthetic turf, floodlights and lodgings for the players.


Syed Intikhab Ali -The News