Shahnaz is a former Olympic sheikh
tThe 29th edition of the Azlan Shah Cup concluded with Malaysia winning the title for the first time. Three-time champions Pakistan finished third. After 11 years, Pakistan finished on the podium in this tournament.
It is a regional and third championship in which those teams whose ranking is below 10 participate. This third place seems to have satisfied the officials of the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) who have not produced anything for the past seven years.
The current PHF leadership is fortunate because of the few crowds involved in the national game. Over the past several years, the people of Pakistan have been less upset with the national team’s performance.
Some well-wishers are optimistic that this victory is the first drop of rain, but do they believe that this single drop can make a difference in the desert?
Why did this result become important? Because over the past 30 years the team’s achievement has been wavering. But now it is at its worst. Even qualifying for the mega events has been a huge challenge for many years.
How many people cared about the outcome of this tournament? The answer is “few”.
I won three gold medals in the Asian Games. People were very involved at that time but the government didn’t pay attention because it was considered a regional tournament. And the government didn’t even offer a cup of tea.
Now we will discuss the tournament stats and Pakistan’s performance in the pool matches.
The tournament is played on a single league basis. Out of 5 matches, Pakistan won only 1 match, against the lowest ranked Egypt in the event, and qualified for the 3rd place match.
72 goals scored (fg, 35 / pc, 32 / ps, 5) in 18 matches at an average of 4 goals per match. This indicates that the speed of the game has become electrified and that hockey attacking mastery is the way to survive.
In modern hockey game power to play and power to bench should be equal because in modern game good play is important but planning/direction to play is more important.
Many things have changed – from astroturf to fiber sticks to plastic balls. Then there were rule changes like no-offside and self-offside.
These changes have made hockey one of the fastest growing outdoor sports outlets. In field hockey, the ball followed the player’s order but in modern field hockey, the player follows the ball’s instructions due to speed.
Therefore, in case of any laxity, the team has to pay a heavy price as happened in the Pakistan-Korea match and in the final match between Korea-Malaysia.
The Pakistan team model that they have adopted for many years is for the big stars – those who have the ability to control the ball by playing in the area, beat one or two opponents in midfield in order to open to take chances in a decent way but the current stars do not. Possessing this quality which included individualism with more opposition turnover, to wear these elements down, they put more pressure on the defensive line and miss and concede goals later the team lost the game.
In my opinion, the current players are good when we use them in a 1 + 1 formation and avoid 1X1. This formation gives the concept of a team game to help the ball carrier avoid individualism with the help of the assist line players where we always use skill strength for strength force.
The big problem the association faces is the lack of sufficient funds and the limited pool of players, but it is also a fact that the consultation process has been limited to the near and dear ones.
PHF’s performance in the past seven years indicates that their speed of thinking is no match for that of modern hockey.
I will ask the IPC President and Prime Minister of Pakistan, who is also the main sponsor, to take remedial steps to revive the national game. The government’s position on the national game should be clear. Otherwise, we cannot stop further deterioration.
In this regard, the restoration of hockey at the divisional level is a must. When there are financial incentives for players, they would rather play for Pakistan than use Pakistan’s platform to get better salaries in foreign leagues.
Hockey League in Pakistan is the need of the hour. There are two reasons for this: It will bring economic gains to the players. It will strengthen the group of players.