In years to come, the situation for Pakistan hockey deteriorated as they started returning to the country with empty hands from the Olympics. — File photo
With no significant hopes for revival of the game of hockey in Pakistan around the corner, the day of August 11, when Pakistan clinched the gold medal at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, passed quietly.
It was the day when the green-shirts, led by Manzoor Junior, overcame West Germany 2-1 in the final.
After that achievement, the lone major success which Pakistan witnessed at the Olympics was on August 8, 1992 when they beat the Netherlands 4-3 for the bronze medal in Spain.
In years to come, the situation for Pakistan hockey deteriorated as they started returning to the country with empty hands from the Olympics, despite the fact the government was pumping in millions of rupees.
Teams from Europe and Australia started rising and continued dominating the world of hockey, whereas Pakistan and other Asian countries, including India, South Korea and Malaysia, failed to break their supremacy.
Pakistan, once a force to be reckoned in the world of hockey, due to its distinguished past record won gold medals at 1960, 1968 and 1984 Olympics, and as many silver at 1956, 1964 and 1972 editions, besides two bronze medals at 1976 and 1992 editions.
Having won the World Cups four times in 1971, 78, 82 and 1994, and silver in 1975 and 1990, Pakistan were also a dominating force in the Champions Trophy, winning it in 1978, 80 and 94.
Pakistan also bagged silver at the Champions Trophy in 1983, 84, 88, 91, 96 and 1998, besides bronze in 1986, 1992, 95, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2012.
When contacted, then captain Manzoor Junior said winning the gold medal at Los Angeles was a dream for them.
“I had never thought at that time that Pakistan will not be able to win the gold medal in next 30 years because we were considered a significant force at that time,” he said.
He added sincere efforts were needed by every stakeholder, including the government and the PHF, to revive the game of hockey in the country.
Manzoor said though the European teams had become major force, they were not unbeatable.
The former captain said Pakistan possessed great potential in this game but there was a need to adopt a comprehensive plan to revamp the declining sport and for that purpose everyone should work selflessly.
He said right people should be chosen to run the sport, otherwise, it would remain a dream to get the lost glory back.
Manzoor said his team at that time was blessed with skill and experience which the current lot lacked and the PHF had to work very hard if it was sincere in making hockey popular in the country again.
Meanwhile, another member of the winning squad, Hanif Khan, said their side was experienced, technically sound and had the winning spirit.
He said no one was expecting in 1986 that Pakistan would win the gold medal but they impressed everyone with their performance.
Hanif disclosed that soon after winning the 1986 Olympics, seven players were shown the door which created vacuum in the side.
He said there was no need to establish academies, instead the PHF should promote club hockey and it had to bring major changes at the domestic level to improve the infrastructure.
PHF president Akhtar Rasool Chaudhry could not be contacted despite several attempts.
Published in Dawn, August 13th, 2014