IF South Africa are known for choking in cricket, we can surely be labelled chokers in hockey. Before departing for the World Hockey League, I happen to observe the short and final training sessions of the Pakistan team at the Hockey Club of Pakistan, Karachi, where I normally go for my daily evening walk.

I was flabbergasted to notice the head coach, who happens to be no other than Olympian Akhtar Rasool, sitting on a chair and issuing instructions to players. Whenever he did make an effort to get up, his waistline exposed the fitness capabilities of the team.

A man whose own physical fitness is questionable, he cannot be expected to keep a bunch of players representing Pakistan fit for international competition.

What image would he portray to his youngsters and the world at large?

Where emphasis is being given to the technical aspects of coaching, some attention should also be exercised on the dress the players wear.

For instance, the shorts normally worn by some of the players is not of some flexible or stretchable material and is also too tightly tailored. It hampers their speed and agility of movement.

The difference can be observed with the European teams who dress lightly and comfortably for ease of movement in the fast-tempo game of hockey.

Hockey is no longer a game of just stick work. It has now become highly technical and, therefore, very sophisticated on Astroturf with long and quick decisive passes and the agility to think and act quickly.

If we sincerely want to regain our lost glory in hockey and remain in competition, we must quickly get rid of the old approach and adopt the latest techniques of training and strategies of the game.

S. RAYAZ MEHDI Karachi

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