The most shameful defeat in the history of Pakistan hockey

Published: August 31, 2013
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This defeat has marred Pakistan's reputation in the Hockey realm. Pakistan has a lot to change in order to get back in the game. PHOTO: AFP

To say that August 30, 2013, was the darkest day in Pakistan’s hockey history would not be an exaggeration. As the founders of the Hockey World Cup and four time world champions (in 1971, 1978, 1982 and 1994), it’s a shame that Pakistan could not even qualify to play in the 13th edition of the world cup matches this year.

This is a terribly painful situation for a team which had once been a master of this game. Pakistan had a smooth passage into the last four Asia Cup tournaments, which was refreshing for the nation but then, as it has been the case over the past few years, the team became infected with its “Korea-phobia“.

It is the third time in this year, following the Azlan Shah Cup, World Hockey League, and now the Asia Cup, when the South Korean team has deprived Pakistan from achieving the top three titles in this sport. Korea remains our strongest and fiercest contender.

No tangible or visible change was seen in the strategy or planning during the match yesterday. It seemed that the management did not pay much heed to formulating an effective game plan for this team – a team which already has a colourful yet nerve wrecking history of defeats on prior occasions.

There is a long list of factors which might have resulted in this tragedy to occur for our national team. These include a blatant exhibition of non-serious behaviour from the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF), dearth in long term planning, a fundamental lack of procedures or opportunities for new and younger talents to become part of the team, no efforts of having international matches on home grounds and frequent changes of coaching staff.

I believe all these factors were largely the reason behind the disaster faced by our hockey team.

PHF should be held responsible for the above reasons. The organisation is not playing an instrumental role to introduce or search for new youngsters, as there are no domestic leagues played in Pakistan for hockey. Hockey teams in schools and colleges are diminishing and the culture of playing hockey as a professional sport is also depleting. No effective steps are being taken towards making hockey popular amongst youngsters.

After every tournament and defeat, the PHF announces changes in plans and future aims, which shows a lack of systematic deliberation and strategy – there is no concrete plan and the players’ performance is strongly reflective of this. The coaching staff is changed after every tournament and every new coach has his own technique for the game. It obviously takes time for the players to excel in the so called strategy and just as the players begin to adjust to the new techniques, the coach and his staff members are replaced again!

Hence, even the coaches cannot be blamed for such terrible performances as they have a genuine reason of not being given enough time to train.

Why are we so deprived of coaches in a country which pioneered the game’s first global tournament and also has a long list of Olympic or world champions?

The team is in dire need of a sincere professional, who not only has experience of playing hockey but will also work for the uplifting and betterment of this prestigious game in Pakistan.

Sports psychologists can also be of help for our national team for mental and psychological rehabilitation and nurturing to cope up with this defeat. However, our federation seems to have no such plans of implementing this in the near future.

If we want to get out of this crisis, the government or the sports ministry needs to step in and administer the governing body as this sport is our national game and hence it is a symbol of our pride and presence which is recognised globally in sport circles.

Aqib Shahzad Bhatti

Aqib Shahzad Bhatti

Pursuing Masters in Chemical Engineering from NUST. He is an inveterate sports devotee and loves writing. He tweets @aqibbhatti (twitter.com/AQIBBHATTI)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • http://India Feroz

    People must relax and understand that in sport one team wins the other loses, depending on how they fared on the day. When we played sport in school decades ago after every match irrespective of win or loss, we raised three cheers for our opponents with “Hip Hip Hurray”. Today the spirit of sport stands discredited and destroyed, thanks to jingoism.Recommend

  • Qazi Imran Khan

    Truly disappointing…Hockey was one thing Pakistanis took Pride in! Now even those days are gone..I pray that the Ministry of Sports realizes about these problems and takes some actions too!Recommend

  • Prabhjyot Singh Madan

    Well, support india now in the world cup. CheerioRecommend

  • Mohammad Numan

    @aqib u r right…selection comitttee is confused and does not know what to select and what to not……they need to take big steps by making a new young team without worrying any losses..Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/aleemzubair Aleem

    Dil paat gaya!Recommend

  • Namaloom Afraad

    Disappointing yes but not the most shameful. You have not followed enough hockey it seems. Last time Pakistan played a World Cup – we came 12th out of 12. In 1986 World Cup – when we were at peak we came 11th in the WC. It is no doubt a bad performance but not the worst ever or most shamefulRecommend

  • Muhammad Ali Abbas

    @aqib I feel that there are various reasons in the demise of our national game. We call it as a national game but we have to accept the fact that Cricket has turn into our national sport practically. Because there are lot of media coverage, glamour and whole of the nation pay head to the cricket rather than Hockey…. It’s not a Asia Cup issue.. Our sports board should make a complete and long term strategy for our up rise in Hockey as well as in Squash … because we were the crown bearers of 1980’s and early 1990′ but unfortunately due to lack of interest (our national habit) we lost our name in these two games :(Recommend

  • http://Lahore Ahmed

    I said it before on ET, and I will say again. We need India to stop interfering in our affairs. Clearly, they fixed the match to deny Pakistan entry to the World cup. As everybody know, Pakistan is well capable of defeating India and would have won the Asian Championship had they not been stopped in their tracks by unfair means. And I am not saying our players were involved in the fixing. India used their influence to have the match fixed and our players were helpless. Recommend

  • Saad Afzal

    Pakistan is the pioneers of introducing short passes and many other techniques in hockey now thanks to PHF for such disaster. Govt has to suspend the PHF chairman asif bajwa and take relevant measures for the revival of hockey in pakistan. Recommend

  • http://Lahore Ahmed

    @Prabhjyot Singh Madan:
    Why?! for fixing the match and playing your part in eliminating us once again (just like in the Cricket world cup 2011) through unfair means…Recommend

  • Faisal Qamar

    its unbelievable how our team performed so badRecommend

  • Aqib Bhatti

    Our coach leaked all the secrets of our team in media a day before semi-final which could be one of the reasons for this lossRecommend

  • Muhammad Usman

    nice description of our let down in hockeyRecommend

  • Salman

    Pakistan khapay. Now everyone must know the real meaning of khapay. Recommend

  • Humxa

    Pakistani coach should also not disclose our secret pointsRecommend

  • Sibt-Ul-Hassnain

    Aqib Bhatti. I felt pleasure by seeing your article here.Your English writing is very good and impressive.Keep it up and may Allah produce more power in your hands and enlighten your mind. AmeenRecommend

  • Haider Mahmood

    My friends,during last two decades we are going down in every walk of life and sport is one of them,as we are morally bankrupted due to looting and plundering done by our people as if Pakistan is a lottery, without realizing that the country can only prosper with sincere, loyal and hard working force and the economic machinery can only be run with professionals selected on merit. Similarly Hockey also suffered due to lack of transparency in selection may it be player or a coach or selector. LOYALTY is what we need. Recommend

  • Waqas

    @Namaloom Afraad:
    U didn’t read the article with attention. Pak was at 12th position in last world cup. But now even didn’t qualified for the world cup so even can’t attain 12th position :)Recommend

  • Blunt

    @Prabhjyot Singh Madan:
    Your advice commensurate to me as ‘vote for MQM’ and no prize for guessing my response. Recommend

  • Jawad Tahir

    Dear writer,
    Performance of Pakistan Hockey Team was not too bad.As Our team frighted in the semi final and losed the Match by 2-1.Win/loss is the part of the game.and the performance was much better than the near past.I suggest to start Hockey at gross route level.This is the only way to get back our golden past.Recommend

  • Abbas

    @Ahmed:
    Are u on drugs? Recommend

  • someone

    @Ahmed:
    Is it a satire or are you really serious? If it is a satire, one can laugh it off and shrug. But if you are serious, boy o boy that is a pretty big accusation on your team then. I mean how come a team loose by fixing the match if your players did not agree to it. Now I don’t know if Indians bribed your whole team or just one or two players but question is why you Pakistanis are easily sold? Recommend

  • someone

    @Ahmed:
    Could you please elaborate what do you mean by unfair means? Is it playing better cricket? By the way did Zimbabwe Cricket board also bribed the Pakistani team?Recommend

  • Shahzad

    @Haider Mahmood: Well said Haider. Pora Pak ki hi yahi halat ha.Recommend

  • saqib

    its diappointing but not a bad performence….. thumbs up to the players they played really good but luck was the only thing they missed that day… pakistan hockey federation needs a massive change…they need new people who committed to their work so Pakisatni team can again become world champion….. God Bless U paki team.. Duas for u all the time..Recommend

  • Vishnu Dutta

    @Ahmed:

    You are bit too slow. i was expecting someone to blame india for it in first few posts. Or…. you blame india for being slow as well ??Recommend

  • Saeed

    Oh my god. In your last blogpost you were praising the team, double-standards much?Recommend

  • Salman Shakeel

    @Ahmed:
    As a Pakistani, Disappointed by your comments.
    Its such a disgrace to put this defeat on India in which by no means they are involved.

    Get a life and be mature enough to acknowledge the short comings of Pakistan Hockey. Such mentality of putting blames on others will lead us to nowhere.Recommend

  • Prabhjyot Singh Madan

    @Ahmed:
    @Blunt:
    If the match is fixed then it means both teams agreed to fix it. One team cannot fix on its own. It means your team members sold themselves out. Very shameful indeed. If you say, the umpires were bought than talk to the FIH. Secondly, what has mqm got to do with field hockey. Anyways, I would like to see the india pakistan hockey series revived. But, it seems pakistan should play with Oman, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Malaysia , Iran and Maldives to raise their standards and foster the brotherhood among the ummah.damn hockey, these teams would bring you down to their level in the future but it is a price to pay. Seriously, leave conspiracy theories and play togather because it brings in crowd and hockey will become popular. We should play more against the top teams……….:) cheerio, rab rakhaRecommend

  • Pakistani

    Its not the matter of bribery, just good or bad day.Recommend

  • Ahmed

    Well we should support them in any problm. Atleast they got bronz. Bettr luck next time. IA. :)Recommend

  • Ihtasham Masood

    The part that the culture of playing hockey in schools and colleges is diminishing from our country, we need to build our hockey from the very beginning and start from its roots.Recommend

  • Baig

    @ Ahmed

    Why do you comment like this brother… How much is from your imagination ? Come on man..Recommend

  • Kiran

    This bronze medal is worthless.Recommend

  • Aqib

    @Prabhjyot Singh Madan:
    Better u concentrate on fixing in india, whehter in international matches or local leagues, corruption is in full swing.Recommend

  • saqib khan

    I was waiting for world cup 2014 but utterly disappointed watching pak not qualifying for the WCRecommend

  • Jhanzeb Khan

    It all started almost 20 years ago, when schools and colleges were deprived of Hockey. It’s a beautiful sports, we just killed it. I myself is not such a good player of hockey but am utterly disappointed that we didn’t even make it to the World Cup.

    This was bound to happen, feels so bad. But on a different note, the results were not that bad, a bronze medal is OK, a lot of damage was already done and that miracles were expected, the poor guys were already under a lot of pressure.

    Better luck next time guys, just try to play your hearts out. Need serious planning and some people with smarts heads on their shoulders to turn the fortune of the game in the country.

    We were and are the falgs bearer of the Asian style of hockey, the short passes and all that, we should stick to the basics and learn the modern techniques of the game from the west. Moreoand more people from the nation should be sent and encouraged to play the European League. The German National Hockey League is a viable option. Recommend

  • sajjad

    @Faisal Qamar:
    do not know Recommend

  • Muratib Hussain

    Realy a black black day that was…Recommend

  • Ahmed

    @Ahmed: Wake up dude :)Recommend