Bolt supremacy: Best sprinter of all times?
the PHF learn a lesson from the Beijing Olympics?
They have gone on to be beaten by New Zealand, who won their only Olympic Games hockey gold medal back in 1976 at Montreal, and had never before beaten Pakistan at an Olympiad. In recent years, the 'Black Sticks' have defeated Pakistan only three times in 15 hockey matches: now, they have done so in two back-to-back encounters
By Gul Hameed Bhatti
The curtain finally fell on Pakistan's campaign on early Thursday morning at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, when the country's national hockey team -- once the heart and soul of Pakistan's previous efforts at the various Olympiads of the past, succumbed to the generally benign New Zealand outfit by a 4-2 margin and occupied a pathetic eighth place in the competition. Without any doubt, this has been Pakistan's worst Olympic Games ever since their first at London in 1948, sixty years ago.
Pakistan were confident of at least finishing among the top four in the hockey event when their 21-member playing squad plus a good number of contingent and team officials flew over to the Chinese capital in early August. They missed that spot, by miles.
Winning a medal remained a pipe dream. Starting from Atlanta in 1996, through Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004, they will now return empty-handed from their fourth successive Olympiad. But the hockey team has never stooped as low as it has at Beijing. Pakistan's worst previous finish was sixth at Atlanta twelve years ago. Now, Pakistan hockey has slumped to the depths of number eight.
Once they get back home, heads are surely going to roll. The head of Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) chief Mir Zafarullah Jamali is certain to be on the chopping block, as recent reports have suggested. There could even be sweeping changes at the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) and Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) headquarters. Several players too are going to be shown the door. Pakistan hockey could also have a new captain taking over.
But, is all that going to raise the standard of our sports? Let's be realistic. It's been a long time, in fact it was almost a decade and a half ago that the Pakistan hockey team won a major international title. At the Olympic Games, apart from three gold medals and an overall tally of eight, in sixty years Pakistan have to show only two medals in individual sports -- both bronze, one in wrestling back in 1960 and another in boxing in 1988. Even that was as long as twenty years ago.
Pakistan's stock has fallen even at the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games level after some heady and exciting moments in the early years after the country's independence. At Doha in Qatar two years ago, Pakistan had their worst ever Asian Games. In the Commonwealth event at Melbourne earlier the same year (2006) the story was not any different.
Hockey, especially, has seen a gradual slump which has been quite rapid at times. In the years after the Athens Olympic Games in 2004, where the team finished fifth and skipper Mohammad Nadeem ND announced his retirement soon after, the only decent win attained by Pakistan was at Amstelveen in August 2005. Pakistan won the Rabobank Trophy there, their greatest satisfaction coming from beating Olympic champions Australia in the final by a 4-3 margin.
Yes, Pakistan also won a four-nation tournament in Moscow in July last year. But it was Scotland who they defeated in the final. The other two teams were lowly-rated Russia and Ukraine.
Similarly, Pakistan's winning the Setanta Trophy contest in Dublin two months ago was also not an affair to celebrate. They beat Canada in the final to lift the cup. In fact, in the preliminaries they only managed to defeat hosts Ireland while both Canada and Great Britain held them to draws.
THE WRITING WAS ON THE WALL
Even before the Pakistan contingent left for Beijing, there were no real expectations attached to the hockey team or the five other athletes who were to represent the country. Hockey chief selector Islahuddin Siddiqui, a successful former captain and manager/coach, believed Pakistan had the potential of finishing among the top four, however.
The team's chief coach Khawaja Zakauddin made a statement after Pakistan lost its opening match to Great Britain that really bordered on the ridiculous. He said that the team was going to 'target' the Netherlands next. The match against Netherlands was the last one in the pool. Pakistan beat Canada and South Africa while being beaten by Australia and, by the time they faced the Dutch, they had virtually been thrown out of the semifinals race.
Even Hanif Khan, one of the staunchest critics of the current hockey set-up and Pakistan's vice-captain of the gold-winning team at Los Angeles 1984, suggested at one point that Pakistan was capable of finishing fifth at Beijing. All the words of wisdom fell flat.
The writing was, in fact, already on the wall. Someone should have cared to read it. Eversince Zeeshan Ashraf took over as captain, Pakistan's spirits have really not risen. In a five-match series in China last March, the team barely scraped to a 3-2 win. At Beijing, China were playing South Africa for the last two positions in the 12-team hockey event on Saturday.
Pakistan finished fourth at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh and then got thrashed by Germany and Belgium twice each when they toured those countries. All they had to show was a win in Dublin. A year earlier, Pakistan had failed to even qualify for the Champions Trophy played in Rotterdam in 2008.
They have again lost the chance to be in the Champions Trophy -- for the third time in thirty years -- as the top six teams in the Beijing Olympiad were to qualify for the next year's event in Melbourne, Australia. They will now have to wait for the 2009 Champions Challenge to go through to the 2010 Champions Trophy. But they will have to emerge as the tournament's winner first!
Needless to say, Pakistan hockey has not been able to keep up pace with the rapidly changing scenario in international sport. They have not taken in the change of rules, the fast play required to excel on an artificial surface, sponsorship and job satisfaction hardly exist in Pakistan. Players wanting to feature in the lucrative leagues abroad are not only reprimanded but also banned and rejected in several cases. An overall change in attitude is what's required for starters.
Pakistan's performance on the hockey field has been extremely poor since the Athens Olympiad of 2004. Apart from the Rabobank Trophy triumph three years ago, they have never finished above third place in tournaments of international importance. In the Champions Trophy events in this period, their display has been dismal: third at Lahore 2004, fifth at Chennai 2005, fifth again at Terrassa 2006 and seventh at Kuala Lumpur 2007. In the 2006 World Cup at Monchengladbach, Pakistan had ended a poor sixth.
They did take a silver medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games hockey contest in Melbourne, but were third at the Asian Games at Doha the same year. They slumped to sixth place at the Asia Cup played in Chennai in 2007.
In the four Azlan Shah Cup competitions played in the last four years, Pakistan have finished third, fifth, sixth and fourth. Quite shameful for a team which has won this prestigious title on three previous occasions.
And then they go on to be beaten by New Zealand, who won their only Olympic Games hockey gold medal back in 1976 at Montreal, and had never before beaten Pakistan at an Olympiad. In recent years, the 'Black Sticks' have defeated Pakistan only three times in 15 hockey matches: now, they have done so in two back-to-back encounters!
KIRAN KHAN'S BEST NOT GOOD ENOUGH
As always, the other athletes in the contingent made poor journalistic copy. Shooter Siddiq Umar appears to have qualified for his two events after his performances at home and abroad in recent months, but two members of the track and field squad and a couple of swimmers earned entry to the Olympic Games through wild cards. Two of them were females. All performed pathetically, just as expected, of course.
The teenaged girl swimmer Kiran Khan, however, bettered her personal record of 30.93 by completing her 50 metres freestyle heat in 29.84 seconds. Unfortunately, she finished sixth out of eight in an event which was won by Germany's Britta Steffen in a new Olympic record time of 24.06 seconds.
Kiran's male colleague Adil Baig swam his 50 metres freestyle heat in 25.66 seconds. He was seventh out of eight. Overall, he was ranked 74th out of 97 in the race. Kiran ended at the 69th spot out of 90 contestants.
Pakistan's 100 metres female sprinter Sadaf Siddiqui finished a poor seventh out of eight runners, with a time of 12.41 in her heat, which was far below her national record of 11.81 seconds. Jamaica's Shelly-Ann Fraser won gold with a time of 10.78 seconds. In fact, two other Jamaican girls tied for the second spot in the final, and both were awarded silver medals.
Abdul Rasheed turned out to be a big disappointment. For someone, who has a personal best time of 14.24 seconds in the 110 metres hurdles -- and ran in a time of 14.18 at the Islamic Games in Makkah back in 2005, coming in eighth and last in his heat at Beijing in a really poor 14.52 seconds was almost shocking.
Rasheed's time was in fact so slow that all the other thirty-nine (39) runners in the various heats did better than him. Late on Thursday evening, with China's celebrated hurdler Liu Xiang, who won the gold medal at Athens 2004, having bowed out through injury, Cuba's world record holder Dayron Robles ran away with the 110 metres hurdles glory gaining a gold in 12.93 seconds. Robles had run the event in a mere 12.87 seconds earlier this very year.
And what about our lone marksman? Siddiq Umar, a national record breaker from the remote area of Karak near North Waziristan, mustered up 578 points in the men's 10 metres air rifle qualification but finished way down at number 48 out of 51 contestants.
This was the same event in which India's Abhinav Bindra bagged a gold medal, that country's first such individual medal after the eight that its hockey team has gathered. Bindra was, in fact, fourth in the qualification round, but shot a score of 104.5 in the final taking his overall total to 700.5 that gave him the top position.
Six days later, Siddiq Umar took part in the 50 metres rifle 3 positions qualification. In the three rounds, he made a score of 1116, which was far below the man who came first, Slovenia's Rajmond Debevec with 1176. Debevec, however, missed the gold medal in the final which went to China's Jian Qiu. With one contestant failing to start, Siddiq finished 49th and last in a field of 49.
IS IT BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD?
Pakistan sports have needed to get back to the drawing board after the end of every international event over the sixty-one years since Independence. And that's a real pity. Cricket is always judged by a different yardstick, but hockey and squash too have brought the country an unprecedented procession of laurels over the past several years. International recognition has, however, now almost vanished.
At Beijing earlier this month, a sense of national pride in fact evaporated soon after the team's march past at the exhilarating opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. The nattily dressed contingent, in its traditional green blazers and white trousers with hockey captain Zeeshan Ashraf carrying the national flag, was perhaps the only instance which touched the souls of the television viewers back home. From there onwards, everything regarding Pakistan was downhill.
The hockey loss at the hands of New Zealand was the unkindest cut of all. The 'Black Sticks' too haven't made it to next year's Champions Trophy but for Pakistan it would be one tournament less to reassert their authority in the field of hockey, if they can start the process soon enough. The next assignment is a bilateral series against neighbours India. The latter, however, were missing from the Olympic Games for the first time in eighty years. The most successful team in the Olympics hockey history had simply failed to qualify!
Where does Pakistan go from here in the realm of sports? The standards are not going to register a massive raise all by themselves. Constant international exposure at the highest level should be the key. Let's get back to the Indo-Pakistan athletics meets concept again and it should be in our interest not to get delirious about our medal hauls at the various South Asian Games level. In a larger international concept, it doesn't mean a thing.
The organisers of sports and the management of the POA, PSB and PHF etc will certainly turn around and say that much is already being done for the promotion of sports. But we don't allow our sportspeople to rise from their roots; we try to make them take the plunge into big events without they being quite ready for them.
The plight of most medium and developing country could be the same as Pakistan's. Agreed. But sports even for these nations are first a matter of pride and then anything beyond that. Afghanistan won its first Olympics bronze medal the other day. Little known Togo picked up a bronze in canoeing. India have got a gold and a bronze and another medal was on its way. Netherlands Antilles took silver in the 200 metres men's final, just behind the magnificent Usain Bolt.
A woman from Thailand bagged a weightlifting gold. The girls from Jamaica have dominated the sprints and the hurdles. Zimbabwe's Kirsty Coventry has taken four medals in swimming -- a gold and three silvers.
Ethiopia and Kenya had bagged two gold medals each by mid-day on Thursday, Mongolia has got a gold medal and so has Bahrain. So have Panama and Tunisia. Several other countries seem to be coming up in the world of sports. Many are quite like Pakistan in many ways. Why can't we raise our heads and learn to live with more (sporting) dignity?
We should learn by the example of the Peoples Republic of China. They are surely one of the fastest emerging superpowers of the world. In the Beijing Olympic Games, with three days still to go on Thursday before they close on Sunday (today), China have overtaken United States in the medals haul already... for the first time in Olympics history!
writer is Group Editor Sports of 'The News'
PAKISTAN AT 2008 OLYMPIC GAMES: ALL RESULTS
100 metres (women): Round 1 heat 2 Sadaf Siddiqui 12.41 seconds 7th out of 8 (ranked 61st overall out of 85)
110 metres hurdles: Round 1 heat 3 Abdul Rasheed 14.52 seconds 8th out of 8 (ranked 40th overall out of 40)
Preliminary Pool B: Pakistan lost to Great Britain 4-2 (half-time 3-0), beat Canada 3-1 (h-t Canada 1-0), lost to Australia 3-1 (h-t 1-1), beat South Africa 3-1 (h-t 1-1), lost to Netherlands 4-2 (h-t Pakistan 1-0). Pakistan finished 4th in Pool B after Netherlands, Australia and Great Britain played 5, won 2, lost 3, goals for 11, goals against 13, points 6. Classification match for seventh and eighth place Pakistan lost to New Zealand 4-2 (h-t New Zealand 1-0). Pakistan finished 8th out of 12 teams
Men's 10m air rifle qualification: Siddiq Umar 95/96/95/97/98/97=score 578 48th out of 51, didn't qualify for final
Men's 50m rifle 3 positions qualification: Siddiq Umar 390/359/367=score 1116 49th out of 49, didn't qualify for final
50m freestyle: Heat 5 Adil Baig 25.66 seconds 7th out of 8 (ranked 74th overall out of 97)
50m freestyle (women): Heat 4 Kiran Khan 29.84 seconds 6th out of 8 (ranked 69th overall out of 90)
PAKISTAN DID NOT WIN A MEDAL
If cricket has a soul, it is the accessibility to all who enjoy being part of it. It can exist on its own without organisation, without a body. Just as a mosque is its people, not its buildings or its rituals
By Dr Nauman Niaz
Lord Thurlow (1731-1806) wrote: "Did you ever expect a corporation to have a conscience, when it has no soul to be damned, and no body to be kicked?" Useful too, when asking which road Pakistan cricket is going down. The problem with using a world like soul, though, is that it requires some definition, even if everyone thinks he knows what you mean.
Soul is especially troublesome in our society because it is redolent of religion and philosophy: simpler to go along with the definition of Epictetus according to Stephen Dedalus: "The soul is very like a bucketful of water".
There is also the not-insignificant matter of what is meant by cricket. For me it is a game anyone can play: men and women, boys and girls, plus the family dog as a fielder when appropriate.
I enjoy watching a bowler bowl and a batsman bat, whether on a forecourt in a lunch break, at a public park or at a first-class ground. The pleasure increases with the standard of play, but at the heart the game remains the same. It belongs to anyone who wants to play it, watch it, keep the score or assemble minefields of statistics -- people like Gul Hameed Bhatti and Abid Ali Kazi or the most revered late Nauman Bader.
If cricket has a soul, it is the accessibility to all who enjoy being part of it. It can exist on its own without organisation, without a body. Just as a mosque is its people, not its buildings or its rituals -- "Where two or three are gathered together in My name" -- so cricket can exist without Gaddafi Stadium, the PCB or all those men trying to portray themselves as its custodians.
My concern is Pakistan's international game, for it is cricket which has given the sport such a special place in Pakistani life. It has provided a focus of association for all cricket lovers. It has created heroes who live on in old men's memories from those days when as boys they stretched along the boundary with their sandwiches and autograph books.
These days, old men and boys have to sit behind the boundaries lest they conceal their emotions. Yet it was not so long ago, certainly well into the 1980s and 1990s when several thousand spectators could sit and watch likes of Imran Khan, Javed Miandad, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis winning matches for Pakistan, even Inzamam-ul-Haq walking into greatness. I did so myself. But poor management took priority over men and boys with picnic baskets, and those days are just another cricket memory.
Time alone will tell us how many boys of today will be old men with memories of cricket tomorrow. Not only boys, either. We all need Imran, Miandad, Inzamam, Wasim and Waqar to do what cricketers of the present are not doing. We need them to elevate us. And we also need the honest journeymen whom Omar Kureishi so loved because with his eye he recognised and understood the honesty with which they gave their all to cricket.
They give us hope that there, with practice, patience and some good fortune, we could go, treading the same fields as the gods. In their own way they are as important heroes as the idols, for they too feed the nostalgia and the fantasies on which our Pakistan cricket was sustained through generations -- but not any longer?
Regrettably, with ad hocism and subsequent tampering and rescripting of PCB's constitution resulted in power-abuse and gross mismanagement. It is that same Pakistan game, which now seems failing to survive and nurture generations that I see as an injury to the soul of the national cricket: cricket at the top level belonged to people now it looks it has been held hostage by the powerful.
The body within which this soul resides is the PCB -- and many may agree with those Greeks who thought it is only when the soul leaves the body that it can show its true nature. What concerns me is this particular soul's ability to live outside the body.
That, I feel, has been the essence of our struggle since people alien to cricket took its control. Associations though sketchily run lost their independence, in that they could no longer exist without the PCB, whose business plan is not really the promotion of cricket through the national team.
Ironically, there isn't any logic to the PCB's current policies and strategies. The next question, then, concerns the future of first-class tournaments if there is no high quality Test cricket for the Pakistan team on which the marketing of cricket is structured. More to the point, was this ever considered when the marketing strategy was devised, at a time when the overseas market looked changing its direction.
Unfortunately status quo was maintained by the PCB resulting in an unending myopia. Although it is not always obvious at ground level, there is still sufficient interest and belief in cricket to sustain tournaments, but not on the heavily subsidised scale that has snowballed, providing for big squads of retained players and generous administrative staff.
We kept yelling that the country's cricket was declining at a rapid pace, more rapidly than the other institutions but no one paid heed to what was being said or written. They now say that when cricket stood burning you could hear the shrieks of pain and horror for miles as raging inefficiency consumed the integrity, decorum and strength of our most revered game, yet weeks ago the same men, wearing all sorts of sunshades, some hairless and some pursing foreign tours and financial rewards were gearing up to owe everything to PCB's chairman.
False and public show piety is on the rise and the number of people bristling with their new found faith is increasing. Intolerance and anger characterises all we do but if the disconnect is forgivable at the lowest level what explains the stupor that now holds all our masters in its deathly thrall? Worse, who cares. We are polarised living in our own pockets, some born out of necessity, some delusional in the extreme.
Accountability is the word that must be banned because it is the most useless item floating on top of national cricket's sewer. The fact is that Dr Nasim brought a team to manage cricket, an international sport, full of people seemingly so full of themselves. It seemed they could because the fiddles are out and damn if Rome is burning.
Dr Nasim promised revamping cricket but we couldn't have everything. There were off the cuff recruitments, papers that could and were fudged till no one could comprehend where it started and where it was ending, decisions reversed overnights with the same ease as a hot knife going through a pat of butter and every rule under the sun up for gross violation on a massive scale -- a state of flux?
Yes, indeed, but what a flux it was and how rapidly it transformed not just our cricket's landscape or our failing environment, but worse, our inner core. We were transfixed by over-ambition and short-term plans and the higher one went the ladder to see what was happening, greater was the insecurity.
We are being hit from every direction by a bewildering variety of events that have given as a new dimension to words like chaos and confusion. While we kept on creaking and groaning, the cricket authorities continued to ignore the usual noises, not refraining from mouthing hollow and meaningless cliches. But the point that troubles many of us is not as much the frightening descent into mediocrity that now holds Pakistan cricket from one end to the other, but the peculiar manner in which all that was decent and valuable died around and inside us.
The voice of the people is gone and each one of us, in his private space and perhaps the limited inner circles, lament this sad decline round the clock, yet other than a few handpicked persons, are simply not willing anymore to stand up and be counted.
The Bolt supremacy: Best sprinter of all times?
The comfort with which he finished his qualifying heats was absolutely remarkable and was something never witnessed before. Watching Olympic qualifiers getting manhandled by a towering Jamaican on the 100 metres track was quiet stunning
By Nabeel Naqvi
If there was anything big enough to overshadow Michael Phelps's extraordinary achievement at the Beijing Olympics, it had to be the men's 100 metres race. The blue riband event of the Olympics, featuring some of the finest athletes on the planet, the 100 metres final at the Bird's Nest proved to be the highlight of the Games.
Organisers and media promoted it as the greatest race in history. With America's Tyson Gay expected to give his Jamaican rivals, the former world record holder Asafa Powell and the messiah of speed Usain Bolt, a run for their money.
Standing 6'5" Usain Bolt arrived in Beijing as the event favourite. But, the comfort with which he finished his qualifying heats was absolutely remarkable and was something never witnessed before. Watching Olympic qualifiers getting manhandled by a towering Jamaican on the 100 metres track was quiet stunning.
Asafa Powell was also cruising along, facing no difficulties whatsoever in his qualifying rounds. However, world champion Tyson Gay looked to be struggling and was facing difficulties even in the earlier rounds. Gay, who had pulled his hamstring in the American athletics trials, never looked like half the athlete he was three months ago. Eventually he was knocked out in the semifinals, the race that saw Powell claim the top spot.
Bolt on the other hand was untouchable, the tall Jamaican won his semifinal in 9.85 seconds just one hundredth of a second shy of Donovan Bailey's Olympic record of 9.84 seconds which the Canadian set at the 1996 Atalanta Olympics. Bolt literally jogged the last 20 metres, with one website claiming he could moonwalk to the finish line and still come first, such was the level of confidence and fitness evident from his sprints.
The pressure was building as the final approached, and it was visible on the faces of all the sprinters on the track but for one. Even Asafa Powell looked nervous at the start of what was to be a memorable night for his countrymen, one in particular. Powell has a reputation of starting the races well, unlike Usain Bolt who is usually slow out of the blocks.
Bolt is technically very sound, almost perfect. For an athlete as tall as him it is not normal to maintain such balance, the centre of gravity is farther from the ground when you are that tall. Therefore it is very difficult to balance your body, especially, running at such an impeccable pace.
The race started with two of the three fastest men on earth lining up to put their name on top of the Olympic folklore. The massive crowd inside the Bird's Nest held its breath in anticipation and with millions watching across the globe, the stage was set. But, Bolt looked relaxed, almost jovial.
It was a smooth start as Powell looked to be the race leading the for the first 15 metres or so, but, that was when Bolt started changing gears like a modern-day Ferrari and was soon flying, with a quarter of the race left he was out of sight. Carefree of his competitors, this guy was on a different level, with an extreme burst of pace, he left the rest of the field to fight for silver and bronze.
As if the world-record was meaningless, Bolt started the celebrations way before the finish-line patting his heart as he finished the race, still, three hundredth of a second inside his previous world record mark, catapulting himself into global stardom.
Sending the crowd into extreme ecstasy, Usain Bolt became the first man ever to break the 9.7 seconds barrier (legally). He remained so calm even during the race of such high magnitude, and he did the unthinkable.
Richard Thompson of Trinidad and Tobago finished second in 9.89 seconds. The event that has been dominated by US sprinters during the past saw them claiming only a bronze with Walter Dix's personal-best sprint of 9.91 seconds. Dix finished just .02 seconds ahead of fourth-place finisher Churandy Martina from the Netherlands Antilles.
The pressure had seemingly tied Powell's legs as he finished a disappointing fifth with 9.95 seconds.
And if that was not enough Bolt surprised all in the 200m final. American sprint legend Michael Johnson who probably knows more about athletics than me also believed Bolt's 100m sprint was the best he had ever seen. But, that was before Bolt cruised past Johnson's mark of 19.32 for 200 metres!
Breaking Michael Johnson's record seemed impossible before the emergence of the lanky Jamaican. Bolt was easing through the 200 metres heats in his usual style but even for a sprint machine like Bolt the 200m world-record looked steeper than the 100s. But, he just smashed the record as if it were a thin sheet of glass.
Usain Bolt did put in more effort in the 200 metre final than he did in the 100m and was able to beat Johnson's mark by two hundredths of a second, finishing at 19.30!
The Beijing Olympics will always be remembered for Michael Phelps's eight golds that took him past Mark Spitz but Usain Bolt matched Phelps's prowess and carved his name in the record books as arguably the best sprinter of all times.
Bolt never showed any sign of nervousness throughout the Games, but then again, perhaps you get such confidence when you know that even on your worst day there's no one on the planet who can catch you, let alone match you.
Will the PHF learn a lesson from the Beijing Olympics?
The vibrant and living days of hockey are long gone. The glorious past is an eyewash. The celebrity status of our shining team when most members occupied centre stage in the collective of fans has evaporated
By Syed Naveed Abbas
A line from William Shakespeare's Macbeth" "A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing". But this mild, factual description in no way conveys the hopeless performance of the Pakistan hockey team in the Beijing Olympics.
The team manager Khawaja Zakauddin, one of the finest hockey forwards, was very confident. The star inside-right of the past said "we have the capacity and ability to win all the matches in the Beijing Olympics." But now it seems that 'our sign of identity' is signing off from the powerhouse Beijing. How laborious.
Zakauddin let's not 'blow hot and cold' all the time. This is amazing but true, the side was just a bunch of individuals without expertise and they badly failed to play as a team. It is worth mentioning that it is the time of new vision, vigour and complete overhauling of the hockey structure to achieve new goals.
The PHF is lacking the core vision statement to encourage, promote, develop and administer hockey at all levels in order to maintain Pakistan hockey as a world leader and a game for everyone. Candidly speaking, the PHF is run by unprofessional individuals.
Decision makers are not equipped with the technical know-how of the modern game. Hockey is the national game of Pakistan but it rarely seems to stir any chords of interest with the general public. It seems to have lost all its charisma and charm of bygone days. It shows that even after long time, we have miserably failed to abide by professional norms that preclude abuse of arbitrary history.
This is PHF's responsibility to pronounce the vision for hockey and its strategic direction. This is the high time to restructure the organisation in general and revamp the individuals in particular.
The vibrant and living days of hockey are long gone. The glorious past is an eyewash. The celebrity status of our shining team when most members occupied centre stage in the collective of fans has evaporated. Fostering excellence and aim to make hockey a game for everyone is visibly omitted. Intellectual poverty to uphold hockey as a specialised subject is on the rise.
The turbulent hockey landscape is reflecting blistering and sweltering expectations. The best practices document is no more. The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) envelopes a hopeless set-up and makes a mountain out of a molehill. An organisational paradigm shift is the need of the hour. The PHF policy document is a vivacious one that determines the future direction of the hockey and measures the present, provided there is a respect for the document.
What baffles me is that the professional and unconditional commitment of PHF is incredulously lost and no visible conscious efforts are made to turn the table up. The rigorous training and development programmes to uplift and uphold the international hockey standards are not found in the culture of Pakistan hockey.
A famine of leadership has become the hallmark of our national sports. A captain is the man who makes a difference and we are unable to produce a consistent captain who can run the team as a leader in a real professional stance -- a competent skipper who can deliver like a captain and share technical hockey skills; like dribbling and elimination, delivering and distributing the ball, receiving and controlling the ball, tackling and dispossessions, other techniques, significance of physical fitness, importance of discipline etc and above all a leading ability. A strong captain with all the above capabilities can emerge as a winner.
Pakistan hockey achieved its pinnacle in the mid 1980s but since then it has slipped downhill. As things stand at present, the national team holds no major title.
The future of field hockey in Pakistan is bleak. Bold efforts are needed by those who are in charge of the game. If we want our younger generation to indulge in this beautiful game we have to carve out our game plan very carefully. We should maintain the winner profile and regain the lost glory.
A piece of advice to the PHF and the Government of Pakistan: "Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall."
In the wake of the disgraceful exit from the Beijing Olympics camp, a million dollar question flickers: Is the PHF ready to deliver?
writer works for the telecom sector in a senior management position and
is a social contributor