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No incentives for hockey

January 14, 2013

THE Pakistani hockey team’s notable success in international events late last year have infused new life into the national game which, after a glorious past, has struggled to remain afloat. The team’s back-to-back successes in the Champions Trophy at Melbourne and in the Asian Trophy in Doha, where it performed brilliantly, have raised hopes of a hockey revival in the country after nearly a decade of setbacks and losses. The beginning of such a revival of fortunes has indeed come like a breath of fresh air and close on the heels of that debacle at the London Games last July which saw Pakistan finishing a poor seventh in the Olympics. The need of the hour, therefore, is to honour and felicitate the hockey players for their outstanding display and to offer enough incentives for them to remain enthusiastic and focused about future challenges, the toughest among them being the 2014 World Cup.

However, one cannot help but note with regret that neither the government nor the Pakistan Hockey Federation have made any attempt to boost the morale of the victorious team which is keenly awaiting some gesture or announcement from the authorities. The players were left even more dismayed when the Punjab government’s cheques for a hefty amount of prize money bounced. No wonder that a majority of players are once again striving to feature in the Indian Hockey League which offers them lucrative contracts and a wider audience. In 2012 too, the country’s top players opted to play in the World Series Hockey in India, even at the risk of getting life bans from the PHF. It is imperative for the authorities to avoid a similar situation this year and bring the hockey players at par with the cricketers who are amply compen-sated in financial terms after every international assignment.