LAHORE: Former hockey Olympian Tauqir Dar has urged the government to take necessary steps to bring the prices of sports equipment down in order to promote the sports culture in the country and make it affordable for athletes and sportspersons.
Talking to reporters at the Dar Hockey Academy, at the National Hockey Stadium here on Saturday along with ex-Test cricketer and ex-chief selector Mohammad Ilyas, Tauqir said that it seems under a planned strategy, the game of hockey in Pakistan is being destroyed by European nations.
“It is a case of Pakistan vs Europe really. At first when European nations for several years could not beat Asian giant Pakistan on grass surfaces, they master-minded the introduction of Astroturf. But even then, Pakistan succeeded to win Los Angeles Olympics 1984 and then World Cup and Champions Trophy both in 1994,” recalled Tauqir.
“After that, in order to create further problem for Pakistan, the wooden hockey stick was replaced with a plastic one and changes were also made in other equipments, especially in the kit of a goalkeeper” observed Tauqir. “Now, though the country has a good number of Astroturf grounds, the high prices of hockey sports equipment are the biggest hurdle in the way of promotion of the game.”
“Presently, a quality hockey-stick plus good pair of joggers cost around Rs 12,000 while the cost of goalkeeper’s kit is around Rs 300,000. So it is just not possible for middle or lower-middle-class families to afford such expensive equipment,” he argued.
Tauqir went on to add that though in the past, departments and educational institutions provided hockey sticks, balls, and other equipment to the budding players, the current scenario is very depressing as no such support comes from the institutions anymore.
Tauqir, who is running Dar Hockey Academy for the last 13 years from own generated resources, said that without reducing the prices of the sports goods, the culture of sports will not develop in the country.
Commenting on the PHF’s new plan of holding a hockey league, Tauqir said in 2005 a league was organized in Karachi by then secretary PHF Brig. (rtd.) Mussaratullah and it was a good step. But it did not flourish.
“If the PHF has the will and the vision for it, then it will find out ways to organize the league successfully,” said Tauqir. “The league is the best short-cut which could provide employment to hockey players as well as generate financial opportunities for them.”
He suggested the PHF hold the league matches in small cities like Gojra, Gujranwala, Khanewal, and others to promote the game and make it popular.
Tauqir, son of great Olympian Munir Dar, said the country was blessed with lot of talent in hockey but there was a need for putting in place a perfect system to groom that talent into skilled, international level one.
Ilyas also added that said at their young age, the game of hockey was very popular and Pakistan won so many titles including Olympics, World Cups and Asian Games.
“Though we were cricketers, it was our desire to be a hockey player as their names were more popular because Pakistan was at the top of world hockey,” he said.
Ilyas said there were many reasons of the decline of hockey and one of them was that the government was not patronizing the game. He said many departmental hockey teams and clubs had closed down due to financial problems. “I can only request the government and departments to come out with bigger roles to revive hockey,” he said.
He appreciated the role of Tauqir Dar Hockey Academy for providing a good number of players to the Pakistan team.
Published in Dawn, December 1st, 2020