PAKISTAN has finished fourth at an international hockey tournament in Australia in an event that featured just as many — ie four — teams.
The outcome hasn’t created too much of a stir in the life of a country for which defeat on hockey grounds the world over has become routine.
Just before this, the national team suffered a drubbing at the Asian championship, ending up number three out of four participants.
The people here have become quite used to receiving this news of failure, in contrast to the joy their side’s frequent victories brought to Pakistanis in the past.
The conversations that would once centre on not just favourable results but also the sheer skill with which the Pakistanis played the game are gone.
In their place, there is an uneasy silence that is only sometimes broken with a reference to the distant past.
It is an exercise about living in a bygone era that does not come easy to those who are still hoping for a change in fortunes here and now.
It is true that the world of sport, by its very nature, does not deserve the dark diction and the gloom-and-doom predictions that are rampant about other areas and fields.
The sporting idiom takes exception to an overemphasis on who won and who lost. Instead, it advises — again and again — an approach which hails participation and interaction over the results of the contest.
But it is also true that, over time, much pride has come to be associated with sporting events, which does eventually lead to references to national morale and national pride in the context of successes and failures.
The Four-Nation International Festival of Hockey, where Pakistan suffered its worst international defeat — at the hands of Australia — and where the country lost to New Zealand and twice to Japan is a reminder that measures to revive the game are simply not working.
It is time to reassess what is going wrong and to rectify the mistakes.
Published in Dawn, November 14th, 2017
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