Experts Weigh In

By: Editorial Team
Published: February 14, 2018
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Hockey Revival Possible


By: Islahuddin Siddique, Olympian


2018 is going to be a very important year for Pakistan hockey. There are four major tournaments lined up, with the Commonwealth Games in Australia posing the first challenge in April, followed by Asian Games in Jakarta, the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia, and finally the World Cup in India.

In 2017, we played poor hockey and suffered defeat at the hands of lower ranked teams. In order to not repeat our past performances, there is a need for introspection. The reason we did not do well in our game was because we do not play hockey at school and club level.

There was a time when our schools and clubs were actively participating in the promotion of the game. And as a result, there was never a dearth of talent.

Today, school hockey is non-existent and there aren’t many good-quality clubs. To revive our fortunes in the sport, the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) would need to take structural reform measures on a war footing.

In the short to long term, the PHF should look at broadening the pool of players and ensure more training in camps. We need to change our habit of organising training camps of shorter duration, and instead should organise them for a longer period of time. The PHF should take interest in the operation of clubs and devise a standard operating procedure for all to follow.

If worked upon with sincerity and dedication, I am very hopeful that we can revive our past glory in hockey. The PHF should make possible better incentives and lifestyles for hockey players. Financial attraction acts positively in encouraging young blood into adopting the sport professionally.

In our society, a student can either study or play. Here a comparison with first-class cricket is best suited as those students who go on to play first-class cricket are hired by departments and therefore start making a living. It’s not the same with hockey. Not only do professional hockey players get a fraction of what cricketers earn, there is no concept or system of paying domestic hockey players, which naturally demotivates the talent aiming to pursue it as a profession.

Here, I feel, the government can play a very positive role by forming regional teams or clubs so that those who want to pursue playing hockey as a profession can secure their future as they won’t have to worry about supporting their families.


Still Struggling


By: Abdul Qadir, former cricketer


Despite winning the Champions Trophy last year, I think Pakistan cricket will have to struggle a lot in 2018. There are two reasons I say so: first, the attitude of the players is not right; second, the management is focusing more on fitness than skills. Yes, fitness is equally important but what good can a fit player with uncompetitive skills bring on the table?

Look at the attitude of Hasan Ali and Shadab Khan. Why are they both not focusing on improving their cricketing skills? I’m afraid Hasan’s attitude may not land him in the same category as that of Ahmed Shehzad or Umar Akmal. Both Shehzad and Akmal were highly talented players and look where they are now. As for Shadab, does the team management and coaching staff not see he grips the ball incorrectly? The reason I’m being critical of the team is because it has flaws that need to be fixed. That’s precisely the problem with winning, it takes the debate off the real issues.

Our actions of today will determine the outcome we expect to see tomorrow. So, when a genuine legspinner such as Yasir Shah is ignored over a new entrant like Shadab, can we really be hopeful?

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), under its incompetent leadership, is continuing to make all the wrong calls. What else can we expect from a bunch of people who have never really played or understood cricket?

They will continue to damage Pakistan cricket in the coming year as well. A key thing to focus on would be to somehow make sure our players make a habit of playing a full 50 overs. They need to develop the temperament for it. Moreover, we will see many changes in the way the game is played.With the advent of T10 now, the pace of other formats is going to rapidly change as well. Soon enough, even 300 may not be a safe target to defend in one-dayers and five days may look like an extraordinarily long time for Tests.

This is modern cricket and the world is getting to understand it well and way better than us. We need to adapt to the changing times and ways and equip ourselves with the skills necessary to compete in it.


Squash Needs Support


By: Jahangir Khan, former player


If the Pakistan Squash Federation continues to invest in upcoming talent, then I’m hopeful that we will see our game of squash progressing.

Recently, Pakistan International Airline (PIA) announced to launch their colt scheme after a long layoff. It was a positive sign for the sport in the country. I was a product of PIA’s colt scheme so I can hope that we would be seeing many more stars in future.

The simplest way to make any sport grow is to ensure that the facilities to play the sport are available at the people’s disposal in schools, clubs and towns. For this, the government will have to step in and provide the infrastructure: playing setup, equipment and mentoring. I’m myself running an academy but if the state comes in and starts investing then the scale just gets bigger.

At present, there is zero government support. Back in the day, when we were the world champions, things weren’t different either. What we need to realise is that things can’t progress this way. There has to be a proper playing setup for the game. Individual efforts can only take us so far. As I mentioned earlier, the scale of improvement doubles up whenever the state starts putting in money.

    It pains me to say that the government hasn’t done enough for the promotion of squash. It could have done a lot, but it hasn’t.

The players that we see doing well in the domestic or international arena are mostly those who climbed up the ladder on their own. They didn’t have any support or guidance, which is not a good thing. The sport cannot survive if it continues to be dealt with in this way.

A trend that is no longer there is the support of corporate entities such as banks, government departments and multinational companies. They used to take players on board and give them jobs. Players used to be very happy as their profession was a source of earning for them as well. Perhaps we need to revive this culture and support the players in a way that they don’t have to worry about their bread and butter.

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