Dawn News

KARACHI: The recent development within the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) where it did away with the selection committee to give additional power to the team coaches has prompted a former Olympian to comment that the PHF was playing “musical chairs”.

“It’s the same faces. Only the posts have changed. We are all being taken for a ride again,” fumed Olympian Islahuddin Siddiqui while speaking to Dawn on Friday.

“It is not the first time that coaches here have been given full power to select teams. This happened earlier, too, in the 1980s and the experiment has already failed in Pakistan,” Islah added.

“Hockey and football coaches all over the world are pure professionals. They are the all in all, who give full results and take responsibility for their teams’ wins and losses,” he observed.

“Now that the PHF has again removed the selection committee, would it also kindly specify which one of these coaches [manager and head coach Akhtar Rasool, and coach Hanif Khan] is going to take responsibility for the team? Or will the PHF, like always, be responsible for the team’s success and loss?” he queried.

Islah, the national team’s most successful captain ever, said another thing that he couldn’t understand was why the PHF also did away with the other two coaches, Khawaja Junaid and Shahid Ali Khan, this time.

“If they were removed due to poor performance, then Akhtar Rasool and Hanif Khan too haven’t done much good. The PHF and all these people have showed zero performance during the past five years. After the recent London Olympics where the team ended up seventh, our world standing is ninth. Five years ago we were sixth,” he pointed out.

“So is it that Khawaja Junaid and Shahid Ali Khan are out due to being out of favour? If so, then the PHF is into politics,” he wondered.

“It is the reason behind the team’s bad performance, too, for they call to training camp and ignore or discard boys not on the basis of their fitness level, technique or age but on pure politics,” he reckoned.

“For the International Super Series next month and the 34th Champions Trophy in December, the PHF has again ignored some seniors. Still the senior-most, Waseem Ahmed, in his late thirties, has been called despite the player himself wanting to call it a day,” Islah said.

“And it looks like he will be named the captain on this tour following which he will also be made the scapegoat and asked to retire,” he predicted.

“For the Champions Trophy and other events you should take those players who can play for Pakistan in 2014, too. And what to say of the chairman of the selection committee for the past three years … he used to select the team earlier, and would be doing the same in the garb of coach too,” he laughed. “So what’s changed here?” he asked.

“As selector, Hanif Khan had said that the door to the team had been closed for certain seniors. It now remains to be seen if those certain players will still be there in 2014,” he said.

“The PHF in the last five years hasn’t been able to figure out whether or not it should have a selection committee. By this latest move of doing away with the selection committee the PHF has pretty much exposed its past five years’ work. It has no plan or policy. All it did was move towards failure and it is still carrying forth in that direction,” Islah asserted.

“There is only one thing that can save Pakistan hockey from further disaster now,” he added.

“Therefore, I urge the president and the prime minister, who is also hockey’s patron-in-chief, to put an ad hoc on the PHF to look into the affairs of Pakistan hockey so that the future of the national game could be secured,” he concluded.

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