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“Our national sport has died”

Published Aug 31, 2013 06:02pm


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Three-time Olympic gold medallists, Pakistan have suffered a serious slump in field hockey. Their only triumph since 1994 was the Asian Games title in 2010. -Photo by AFP
Three-time Olympic gold medallists, Pakistan have suffered a serious slump in field hockey. Their only triumph since 1994 was the Asian Games title in 2010. -Photo by AFP

KARACHI: Former Olympians and fans Saturday mourned the darkest day in Pakistan's sporting history after the former field hockey titans failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time ever.

Pakistan went down 2-1 to South Korea in the Asia Cup semi-final in Malaysia on Friday, a tournament they needed to win to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in the Netherlands.

Pakistan won the inaugural competition in 1971 and triumphed again in 1978, 1982 and 1994.

Three-time Olympic gold medallists, Pakistan have suffered a serious slump in field hockey. Their only triumph since 1994 was the Asian Games title in 2010.

Olympian Shahnaz Shaikh said he felt heart-broken at hockey's downfall.

“Why I am alive to see this day?” said Shaikh, vice-captain of Pakistan's triumphant 1978 World Cup team.

“It's sad, sad and sad, we have seen this day when the masters of hockey have come to this stage.”

Shaikh said the government must replace the current hockey federation leadership.

“It's time we have a change at the top, until and unless we do that it would be impossible to change our hockey fortune,” said Shaikh, also a qualified coach.

Hanif Khan, a member of country's last Olympic gold medal winning team in 1984, said Pakistan hockey had gone back 25 years.

“Now when we don't play with the top 12 teams of the world in the World Cup, where will our team stand? They will be 25 years back at the international level,” said Khan, under whose coaching Pakistan finished seventh in the first World Cup qualifiers in July this year.

Sports analyst Ejaz Chaudhry said the hockey team's failure was a “national tragedy”.

“We have ruled the hockey world but the current set-up of the federation has brought us at the lowest point, it's a national tragedy,” said Chaudhry.

Fans on the streets chanted slogans against the Pakistan Hockey Federation and the team.

“Shame,” shouted Ali Iqbal Gujjar while recording his views on television in Faisalabad.

“Our national sport has died, we must sack all those who are responsible for this.”

Comments (28) Closed

AG Swabi Aug 31, 2013 07:21pm

Why not bring these criminally negligent sports officials (hockey, squash etc. etc) to the court and hold them accountable for their sickening gifts to the Nation. Show them to the Nation!!

I remember the days when the pictures of our hockey heroes used be at the hard-cover pages of the primary school stationary and though being poor, we used to buy extra to collect our heroes pics

raja haq Aug 31, 2013 07:28pm

no surprise like everything else all county is failing and collapsing, useless in everything...

Salma Aug 31, 2013 07:31pm

hockey dead? when was it alive? useless like everything else with Pakistan these days

rahim Aug 31, 2013 07:33pm

sure sack everyone, the ones to follow are equally useless..

Yasir Aug 31, 2013 09:21pm

to be honest I am not surprised of this result because hockey is just another face of our downfall as a whole nation, when from police to judiciary to patwari to teacher even the moulvi of our mosque is appointed on political basis and there is no recognition for merit we should expect these results, corruption from the top most to the least bottom is the cause of our disgrace.

Amjad Wyne Aug 31, 2013 09:27pm

Our National Sport has not died but those responsible for providing the environment, the resources and the focus it needs are certainly dead.

syed baqar ahsan Aug 31, 2013 09:46pm

non professional approach,political appointees,poor school/college/university hockey tournaments and safarishee selection is the really cause of destruction of national game,it is a game of very young lot full of stamina and muscles.

Ahmer Sep 01, 2013 04:52am

Like every other sport, our leaders have managed to destroy the national sport too.

Sohail Sep 01, 2013 06:06am

My heart is bleeding to see state of Pakistan's hockey affairs today. The only country in the world who won 4 world cup titles is not even able to qualify for it....sad. Our government has to pay immediate attention to this sport which is our country's pride and completely revamp the Pakistan hockey federation and only bring people on the basis of true merits.

Jary Sep 01, 2013 06:57am

Sack all? you mean all 30 of them? I think there are about 30 people in the country who actually play hockey. Last I saw someone actually playing this sport was in 1995, this tells how "popular" this sport is among the masses. Please stop this emotional non-sense and embrace the fact that this sport passed away long ago.

ahmet abdulaziz Sep 01, 2013 10:01am

After witnessing the cream period of Pakistan hockey, indeed its very difficult to see the tragic death of the national game of Pakistan. But its not the time to cry or start blaming this or that. The reasons are simple. The young generation likes glory. You have got to attract young school going children to hockey. The toughest point is that the young school going boys stand lost in front of the glories of the cricket stars. They follow the stars. They follow the cricket stars. So first of all we must analise as to what make our cricket players a star. Why our children no more play hockey on the streets, but play cricket there. We must try to find out the reason, why our children are no more attracted to hockey. If we do not do this, the change of faces in the PHF or whatever would not do any good to hockey in Pakistan. We must induct the system of offering big prizes at the school level hockey tournaments. We must induct the local media to interview upcoming hockey players at the school level. Our media must enter the hockey field at the grass root level.

M A Mujeeb Sep 01, 2013 04:07pm

The main reasons of our decline in field hockey are as follows:

  1. Physique of our players is no where near the Europeans, Australians, Argentinians New Zealanders or even Malaysia.
  2. Apart from physique, we are phyically very weak and cannot match the swiftness of countries named above.
  3. On astro turf the game is played at a brisk pace compared to slow tempo on grassy grounds and hence it is difficult for our players to match the speed of their opponents. Cnange of rules by FIH.
  4. Mismanagement by Pakistan Hockey Federation.

    Therefore there is no need for Shahnaz Shaikh to cry for the present state of affairs.

Anees Sep 01, 2013 04:19pm

It was already dead. Only the funeral was left. And that has been done here.

abhishek Sep 01, 2013 04:56pm

Pakistan should learn from there mistakes as India did. They are better than us in every field of every games. But we can also become good if our corrupt politicians do not spoil our sports.

khurram Sep 01, 2013 06:56pm

I think we need a person like Noor Khan to revive Hockey. It is really a sad day, however we have to realize that hockey has changed. Our old olympians do not realize this fact. Their old style hockey is over. I have no doubt in saying that with these old style olympians as managers and coaches, hockey will sink more. So solution is to find a qualified and dedicated foreign coach and also prepare pakistani modern hockey coaches in long run. We must also remove politicians from PHF top management as well

mark Sep 01, 2013 06:55pm

Nation has died not only sport my friend open eyes please. Thanks

MJK Sep 01, 2013 08:18pm

Admit it. We simply don't have calibre players compared to Australian & European players.Gone are the days of that dribbling the ball, game is now long passes , accurate short corners & stamina. Indo-Pak style of hockey is dead.

Nasreen Sep 01, 2013 08:24pm

Let's dissolve the current PHF and start from scratch. Let's name all those who don't deserve to be in the current PHF setup and came from back door. Accountability should start here in the comments section if Dawn agrees.

Ali Vaqar Awan Sep 02, 2013 10:50am

Its biggest tradegy and shock to see Pakistan missing out on world cup for the first time. Nothing can be more humiliating than this. Our hockey federation needs to be completely overhauled and replaced with professional and competant people. Our team needs to learn the dynamics of modern hockey as alone style and skill can'nt bring success. Also the fitness of our players need to be worked on. Selection of players need to be done on merrit rather political or family ties. Our team needs a professional coach who can teach to play modern hockey based on tactics and strategy rather than typiclal directionless play. By just crying issue wo'nt solved until some practical measures are taken. Its the dark age of our hockey, gone are the days of glory where every team used to fear Pakistan.

Shah Sep 02, 2013 11:00am

It's not only the field hockey - our nation died many moons ago as well - RIP!

Shehzad Zafar Sep 02, 2013 11:21am

@M A Mujeeb: I totally agree with this comment.

Sanjeev Sep 02, 2013 12:55pm

Field hockey in India has faced same situation like Pakistan is now facing but after maintaining a long supremacy. But reason behind this is that we relied too much on skill. India before partition ruled the game , than after partition came Pakistan with equal skill if not little more but a lot of zeal for obvious reason and dominated the game up until mid or late 90s. But the game has changed now so much that you can not dominate it just by skill or zeal or a good mix of both. It requires now physical strength and stamina and proper management. The urban lifestyle of subcontinent and lack of proper sports infrastructure doesn't permit youngsters to develop like a genuine professional person. This is the main reason we perform poorly in international arena and repeat the same if things remain like this.

SALMAN KHAN Sep 02, 2013 12:55pm


syed wasim haider Sep 02, 2013 01:36pm

@Yasir: True, we have become a shameless corrupt country.

ahmet abdulaziz Sep 02, 2013 01:43pm

@Yasir: I agree with you, but the fact is that we are not going down in cricket. We must analise the reasons for blooming of cricket and see what we failed to do in hockey.

IbDi Sep 02, 2013 02:23pm

Same with Squash! We need big changes and no one dares to make them.

Saleem Sep 02, 2013 02:47pm

Pakistanis want to be the World Champion in hockey with only few people playing it. Think about it yourself as everyone just want to play cricket. If we want to be good in hockey then we need to play it.

gaurav Sep 02, 2013 10:45pm

Everything is tied to economy and political stability. Like Pakistan's economy and stability, like its sports.