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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
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

Comments (22) Closed

Michael Warner Aug 13, 2014 07:45am

1984 hockey chief coach told the president of the country that this may be the last time the country's hockey team won the gold medal. he saw the cracks which the country's hockey experienced after the 1984 gold medal. i wish others in hockey who were handling affairs of phf could see these debacles one after the other coming in the future.

Akil Akhtar Aug 13, 2014 07:53am

Nobody plays hockey in Pakistan at grass root level. That is where the problem is and we need to promote it in schools. At senior level we need to create a team culture rather than trying to rely on individual skills.

Adnan Aug 13, 2014 09:02am

If we give a honest look to hockey, it was to die because the fame and the amount of money which people get in Cricket and as compared to that one gets peanuts in hockey. If Shahbaz Sr one of the greatest hockey player passes through a market in Karachi or Lahore very few people would recognize him, However, imagine even after 15- 20 years after retirement from cricket what if Javed Miandad, Waseem Akram appear in a Shopping mall.

vijaykumar Aug 13, 2014 10:15am

The decline of hockey in the subcontinent is also due to many changes in the rules which suited the European players. Even now I challenge the european team to play the "Asian type" hockey in the subcontinent. The european type of hockey mainly relies on brute force and no ART. My sincere wish is that both India and Pakistan should stick to "our"type of hockey so that the game is kept alive.

Atif Aug 13, 2014 10:32am

The Los Angeles Olympics were held in 1984 and not 1986. 1986 was the year when we lost the Asian Games gold to South Korea. 1986 was the year when Pakistan was walloped in the World Cup

D Aug 13, 2014 10:54am

When it was Pakistan Team we were the best, when its became PUNJAB team only we became worst.

Bottom line every major organization HQ are in Lahore or in Islamabad. Since late 1970s Pakistan largest city , port city of Karachi has been ignored & you see the results.

A True Fact Aug 13, 2014 12:14pm

please take a long hard look at PHF and the people running the organization. it is a benchmark of nepotism and punjabism for this country. and now they will do the same to PCB cricket.

Anupam Aug 13, 2014 12:36pm

Both india and pakistan needs hero in hockey In cricket people look upto sachin or wasim But in hockey hardly thereare anyone whom the kids will look and take the game. AS time changed and poor dinsourous were unable to adopt with the changes so do india and pak hockey will extinct if they dont change themselves with time

Nasser Aug 13, 2014 01:40pm

Errors when you keep referring towards the end of the article to the Olympics title of 1986; it was 1984. Even in 1984, the decline in Pakistan hockey had already started. Just 2 years later Pakistan crashed to 11th position out of 12 (India of course came last) in the Hockey World Cup 1986. Pakistan and India have no chance to compete against the Australians and the top European teams. The gap of goals is at least 3. Pakistan against Australia regularly loses by a gap of 6 or 7 goals. Corruption, nepotism, provincialism, lack of skills, lack of physical strength, lack of physical endurance, very poor and inadequate diet, low income, lack of fighting spirit all add up to make Pakistan now a very ordinary hockey team - they could not even qualify to PARTICIPATE in this year's world cup. How the mighty have fallen! The whole nation has deteriorated to such an extent that the future does look bleak. We need to change our ways before Allah would help us.

Rizwan Aug 13, 2014 01:59pm

its a useless game...remove it as national Game plz... do u find people playing hockey anywhere in streets ? or taking about it ? no one even knows about nation Hockey team Captains' name..take this relic out of arena now.

ahmedj Aug 13, 2014 04:03pm

There are several causes of the downfall. Deterioration started when half of the team was forced retired by the then PHF president Brig Atif immediately after the 84 Olympics. He wanted to rebuild the team with young players, however, Atif could never accomplish his plan and in reality destroyed hockey in the country.

One must not blame the past, instead learn and move forward. Comparing Asian hockey with European, Europe has gone through transformation where as Asia is stuck in time. Pre 1980 era was the time when European hockey was on grass. It was expensive and difficult to maintain soggy hockey fields where grass needs mowing every fifth day due to extensive rain. Due to bitter cold and short days in winters when the sun sets at 3:30 pm, there was no hockey half of the year. In Asia hockey continued through out the year and the grass never grew on firm grounds. Things changed when synthetic turf was introduced. This made the European play more helping them to learn the skill more. More and more artificial grass was laid even at school grounds. Same school grounds are used after education hours for adults but we shut our school facilities after 2:00 pm. Asia never realised or adapted to change.

Apart from classical hockey, Europe introduced indoor hockey to escape cold and also 7 a side game on smaller grounds. We could have done the same but we don't seem to be adventurous enough to accept indoor or smaller version game when summers are harsh or at dark hours.

Mahendra Singh Aug 13, 2014 04:14pm

The story itself reveals the truth, sadly, most of the stories on Dawn now has serious factual lapses. Anyway, let's talk about hockey. The hockey in Pakistan is not DEAD, the players are good and talented. Sadly the management part has to share the blame. Remember there was no Pakistan team to compete in the Commonwealth Games, not sure about Asian Games. The worst part is sudden decline. In a decade's period Pakistan hockey has witnessed this debacle. I feel if hockey in Pakistan is not taken care off soon the team would loose morale. Truth is tie up the laces now otherwise other hockey playing nation would widen up the gap.

AH Aug 13, 2014 05:25pm

@vijaykumar - Very true. The decline in hockey was bound to happen after the Europeans outvoted the Asians in favor of playing hockey on the turf as they knew that until that happens, they have no chance to beat Pakistan or India on the grass as the Asian giants were too good for them. The Europeans also knew that there were no turfs in the Asian countries where as in the European countries, turfs were available at the school level; the rest was history. You see, every country can grow grass but poor countries can not afford turf at the grass root level. This was a well orchestrated and calculated move by the Europeans and it has been paying the dividends for them for the past two decades.

R.Kannan Aug 13, 2014 07:28pm

In 1984, India were knocked out by pathetic refreeing which enabled Germany to qualify for the semi finals. However, the decline of Indian & Pakistani teams is because rules were changed starting from the 1970s when astro turf made its debut. The rules favoured the Europeans with definitions of concepts like scoop, off side, dangerous play etc being changed. India & Pakistan did not unite with other Asian teams to oppose the changes and the consequence is there for all to see.

Sunil USA Aug 13, 2014 09:58pm

It is sad. I always love Hockey before Cricket. But still not all is lost. If more player form Pak playes in Inidian hockey League it will help both the countries.

Bacchus Piggawala Aug 13, 2014 10:17pm

I agree with Vijaykumar. What Ind and Pak need to do is start an IPL style hockey league played on GRASS. GRASS is where the subcontinent teams always had an advantage (because of the wristy nature of our people). The Europeans screwed us by moving to astroturf. They can keep their World Cup/Olympics for now but the subcontinent needs to break away from the WHF if it does not agree to eventually moving back to GRASS. India has enough economic muscle to make this threat work. Pakistan should be its close partner. Frankly I would rather see an India-Pak final than see silly Germans play the Dutch.

Me shocked Aug 13, 2014 11:08pm

Field Hockey is a female sport. Why Indian and Pakistani concentrate on boring and unpopular sports. It's time to concentrate on playing Soccer, American football, Baseball, Tennis, and other lucrative sports not Cricket or Field Hockey.

Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad Aug 13, 2014 11:53pm

What a great tragedy?

As long as Asian countries don't unite and strive hard to bring back the centuries old traditional and historic field hockey played on natural grass (like football, cricket, baseball, rugby and so on) back to the fore, it will be very hard if not impossible for any Asian country to win laurels in any kind of international field hockey matches, tournaments or leagues.

It was unfortunately a big conspiracy perpetuated by wealthy European nations like Germany, Holland, England along with Australia to tangibly influence IHF and change the centuries old format of field hockey from natural grass to astro turf. Rest as they say in history.

Peace Aug 14, 2014 12:58am

@AH Just like tennis why not have hockey on multiple surfaces. All hockey in southeast asia be played on grass and on turf in Europe. Pak/India do not have any say in hockey at the international stage. How many India/Pak referee's do you see in an international game. We need to break this European mafia otherwise we will not be heard.

Yawar Aug 14, 2014 03:13am

Manzoor Jr is absolutely correct. Even though academies can help, great players do not emerge from there. Instead, great players emerge from competitions at the school and club levels.

Qasim Aug 14, 2014 08:36am

National Game of Pakistan is now in a great need of people who really understand the game, I don't know about other cities but I know in Karachi....schools like Habib Public, Saint Patrick have hockey teams with good talented players and in past most of the players in national team were from Habib Public.....Why we are always finding excuses of our own fault by giving priority to favouritism over talent and merit. Still if PHF wants to revive hockey then they have to find sincere scouts and send them to different schools all over Pakistan and gather all talent nurture them and then see the WIN WIN RESULT......

Malik Aug 14, 2014 09:50am

I wonder in 1984 the great moments captured in black & white photo. I request Dawn to create a photo gallery (colored picture preferably) of all the golden and proud moments of Pakistan Hockey.