Olympic ouster

Olympic ouster

Pakistan hockey team’s Olympic campaign all but ended on Tuesday, when they were handed a 7-0 thrashing at the hands of World and Olympic defending champions Australia. They play South Korea for a seventh-position classification match on Thursday after failing to make it to the semi-finals.

Besides hockey, Pakistan had representation in athletics (men’s 100m and women’s 800m) as well as shooting (skeet) and swimming (men’s 100m freestyle and women’s 400m freestyle). Sprinter Liaqat Ali, despite having a better time than 15 of the 29 qualifiers, failed to qualify for the main round of the 100m sprint and was hence unable to realize his dream of sprinting alongside the likes of Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell. Swimmers Anum Banday and Israr Hussain, meanwhile, were also disappointing in their heats as they failed to progress.

Skeet shooter Khurram Inam was met with disappointment when he was unable to break into the next round.

Rabia Ashiq, who runs later today, will be aiming to better her personal best and reset the national record.

Realistically, Pakistan’s only chance of bagging a medal at the London Olympics was with the hockey team. A resilient start against Spain, a good win over Argentina and an exciting fightback against South Africa had raised the hopes of the nation and brought out many a hockey fan from deep slumber. Reality checks were handed when they played hosts Great Britain and then the mighty Australians.

While the losses were very painful for fans of the Greenshirts, the ensuing backlash and relentless criticism too, was unwelcome. The on-field display showed a marked difference in the quality and preparations of both sides but it is an unfair call to lay all criticism with the players.

The organisers, who are quick to claim the responsibility when the team does well, are not so swift in taking the blame for lack of success and glory. The players have been embroiled in fiascos involving bans, fines and then re-selection into the national team after a young and inexperienced side was unable to impress at the Azlan Shah Cup.

It is imperative that the officials in the Sports Ministry and the Pakistan Olympic Association – who have on-going issues of their own – be held accountable for the deteriorating state of the national game and other sports. While high-ranking officials and big corporations pump money into cricket and make as yet futile attempts to bring international players to Pakistan, there remains little interest to revive the status of hockey and other sports.

What steps should the government take to improve the state of the national game?

Will complete overhauls of managements and sports bodies help?

Should the players be the only ones blamed for losses?

Is it right to blame the players for the hockey losses in the Olympic Games?

Dawn.com invites its readers to share their opinions and suggestions…


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32 Responses to “Olympic ouster”

  1. A.Bajwa says:

    Pakistan is handicapped in hockey because of the high cost of artificial turfs. If Olympics were to revert to field hockey we would sill do well.

    Perhaps in the near future we should focus on classical Greek games like wrestling, avelin, and dicuss throw. In rural Pakistan there is lot of talent for these sports.

  2. Paki Boy says:

    Win or Lose is the Part of game, Dont You Worry that you have lost there, We are still proud of our team!!!

  3. Asad Abbas says:

    I think Pakistan Hockey Team played really well, under the given circumstances in pakistan with the Deteriorating system visible in every public institution now a days i was surprised they beat argentina, south africa and drew with spain.

    I would really appraise the Pakistan Hockey Team for their efforts, i am proud of them. Thank You for the Great Show we were better than a lot of teams there and that really counts.

    As for competing with Austrailia, i think we need to employ a deep strategy with an advanced analysis and review system, to come up with the moves for the current era in other words we need major strategical upgrades in terms of technique, and on field tactics. Also we need to groom and train our players on long term basis, i see the potential and we can beat any nation in the world, if we invest in hockey, it will make us proud again inshAllah,.

  4. RK USA says:

    We are 160 million plus and unable to achieve single medal? Obviously there is a major problem at National level of developing the talent at the early stage. There are 30 plus events at Olympics games and we only focus on Hockey. Even hockey, we end up at 7th by luck.

    This is the sole responsibility of Govt of Pakistan to invest atleast $1 billion from 16 billion reserves to our future generation of athletes to make this nation proud. It is not impossible, we have to make an effort to create sports at grass roots levels to compete againt rest of the world. It is beyond shame that we were unable to get a single medal.

    Maybe, its time to seek chinese help in this area as well and ask them assist us. It’s time to wake up as a nation and build a strong foundation for our athletes to Win atleast 10 medals in 2016. It is not impossible, we have to do it or we will continue falling behind agaist rest of the world.

    • Taxla says:

      Yes, it’s a matter of great shame that Pak. is falling behind but not in games only but in every sphere of life, peace and security, human rights, ethnic violence, integrity (cricket match fixing) and many more social ills to name a few. It will require a miracle, lots of money and patience.

  5. MAK (usa) says:

    After watching Netherlands vs. Germany for Gold medal, the calibre of players,the stick work, one touch play – I am speechless. Only answer is, intensive training & reorganization of PHF, getting rid of political appointees,let PHF reform itself.

  6. Bilal says:

    Instead of sacking players or hockey federation official , we need to look towards the real cause of our failure.We had already tried such tactics but all went in paint and did not produce any result.We could improve our results in following ways

    1.Currently their is not even a single blue Astriof laid in any hockey ground of Pakistan.We need to invest in infrastructure.We are thankful to players who stood at number 7 without even a single blue astrof ground in the country , for where they could practice.
    2.Due to commercialization cricket is the first choice for every Pakistani youngster.In order to attract youngster towards hockey , federation should increase the salary for hockey players.Secondly players should be allowed to play foreign leagues to earn money.
    3.PHF must work to start Pak own version of hockey league.This would attract the crowd towards hockey grounds and would help in popularity of the game in country.
    4.Media should give coverage to hockey events and hockey players.Although we stood at number 7 in Olympics , but Abdul Haseem Khan played brilliantly throughout the tournament.But i have not see any television channel or newspaper interviewing abdul haseem.

  7. james says:

    Hockey is now fast and furious game , a game of energy and stamina.if you are not designed for it then you likely to fail.

    • Asad Abbas says:

      Pakistan never lacked in the terms you are using here my friend,
      Also bringing negative attitude is wrong, if you go about it like that, then great britian didnt do any better than us as they also didnt win any medal.
      But instead i would say, we will look at where we can improve and come back better next time.

  8. Jalal says:

    Agree with most of the above – media also has a much greater role to play in encouraging sports activities all I ever seem to see is endless cricket – other sports hardly get any publicity hence little encouragement to take part. Even in Karachi so many have never heard of the Olympics are unaware of its history and significance. Rabia Ishaq was quoted as saying until recently she had never heard of them. boxer Amir Khan said that facilities were poor and coaching methods were out of date – only more foreign competition and training opportunities will improve this – as for the participation of girls in sports – either Pakistanis want or they don’t want – is difficult for girls when they face so much prejudice!

  9. Roshan says:

    Even Afghanistan has become better than us, they have won a bronze medal at least! congrats to them though

  10. Sami says:

    The answer is not what the government can, or should, do about hockey, at least not directly. What needs to happen is that the government should create an environment where private industry is incentivized to support athletics. The same applies to all sorts of other ailments the country is suffering. Get it out of the hands of the government and make it attractive for the private industry to take over. We all know that governments are notoriously inefficient at the least, and/or or corrupt, to effect such things in a positive manner… thus the argument for less government, and more free enterprise.

  11. roomi says:

    A year ago in 2011 Pakistan hockey team had beaten Australia and also won a title after a long time. Somehow a few months later the Dutch coach was sacked and most of the senior players sacked or banned as they played in the Indian Hockey league to earn a living! PHF doesnt give these players enough money to survive yet they were banned! The PHF that controls hockey in Pak tried to send a young team to tournaments before Olympics but since it kept getting thrashed it decided to lift the ban from senior players one month before Olympics. They had already killed their own side as it takes time to make a combination! So these players were only playing togather for one month! You cant expect to win with such erratic and bad management! Talent is squandered! Salman Akbar Pakistan most experienced goal keeper is playing Dutch league yet they considered him unfit for Pakistan! Had they allowed the Dutch coach to work I think on the momentum Pakistan was creating it could have finished in the top 3-4! PHF is Pakistan Hockey’s own biggest enemy!

  12. Osman says:

    I am repeating myself here. Said the same about other sports in Pakistan before. It is probably a 10-15 yr road, but that is what we need at minimum to start producing true professional atheletes in Pakistan on a sustainable basis:

    1- “Zero tolerance” for favortasim in team selection. Merit has to be the only selection criteria;
    2- 24*7 – 365 days a year, training for perfection from as early as Age 8. Tha includes nutrition (we cannot produce world class athletes from ppl who live on Biryanis, Halwa Pooris, Roghni Naans, and Niharis); Gym discipline (depending on age); + Swimming/Running to supplement stamina.
    3- Academies with infrastructure (Blue Turf; Gym; Professional Coaches; and qualified academic teachers) + full time Schooling for children with “Ambition” to win medals and honour for Pakistan in future;
    4- Identifying talented youth at very early ages and giving them the opportunities to develop;
    5- Creating stiff competion between academies / states / city teams to make them all mentally tough.

  13. Arshad says:

    As with everything it has to start from the top.The Chair of PHF should be experienced,forward looking person who is really interested in making Pakistan once again the world champions.This will not happen by next Olympics or the one after that.It is a long road we have to walk.Sadly the Pakistani ways of doing things is to reach the end in one jump.This is not possible.PHF has to think hard and find the solutions for the future.If I am chairing PHF,I would do the following:-
    1. All concerned,including any old Olympians to gather in an auditorium and watch the recording of PAK thrashing by AUS 7-0.Everyone will learn and have comments.The game of Hockey is now played on blue,yes blue water based astra turf,which is fast and very fast.
    2. The new Blue,Water based astra turf to be laid at Lahore urgently for the young players to start practicing.
    3. Appoint an oversees coach,from Holland,GRE,GB or even AUS.This is the key.
    4. Select a young A team,average age 20 and select a young B team,average age 18 and sponsor them to train as future players.There are even now players who impressed me even they lost to AUS.They need to be shown the way.Fitness,focus,diet is equally important to the game itself.
    5. Organise regular matches of the national A team against regional teams,army,police,PIA,railways etc, etc.That will not only raise the profile of the game within the country but the appointed coach would be able to spot talent worthy of being included in the national A team.It is also very necessary that PAK A team to play against international teams,in Pakistan or in the host countries.This is not only restricted to the top teams but even against emerging countries who have taken up the sport.

    As I said the programme is a long term and everyone concerned should be prepared for a long haul.If we live in the past and dream of Rome when Pakistan won the gold medal on the green grass,then we stay there and countries like Argentina,Korea will go past us.

  14. Ali says:

    Coaching foreign or local would a final step in preparing a formidable team. What we need is fresh blood for Pakistan Hockey – a continuously filled pool of young players who can play for national side. I would emphasize the importance of School Hockey here. The tournaments conducted by Intermediate boards should be revitalized as they produced many a players and also lured schools in having a team thus creating interest in school students for the game. We are stuck with players who are long past their prime.

  15. Ahsan says:

    I think close all the internatinal participation for atleast five years, invest the money which is used for delegate travelling , accomodation and all the beaurcratic expenses into development of domestic infrastructure at all level. There is no point in participating at highest level and having humiliating results.

  16. M.Moosa says:

    I think it is now too late to comment. Every thing has collapsed so as sports. Favoritism, provincialism and ignoring merit has destroyed every thing. We are helpless and sick and tired. Where is a Massiha and when he will come. Only God knows better otherwise we have already reached to the edge of the depth of the downhill every where.

  17. Rizwan Hamid USA says:

    You cannot blame the players, for they did their best. You cannot blame incompetent officials after poor results, because the people allowed them to be appointed officials. They are the end result of the Pakistani society. The people of Pakistan are to blame. World class athletes are produced by training and encouraging children from a very young age. By the time they are 16 or 17, you already know if they are world class. You cannot take a world # 500 and bring him to top 10 in the world if you start when he/she is 19 to 20 years old. The involvement of Pakistani parents in their child’s sporting career is near zero. They think buying the child a bat, a ball or a hockey stick is enough. The whole world talks of home ground advantage. This simply means the team wants the crowd to cheer them. ie They want appreciation and encouragement for their efforts. If they get this, it makes them preform better. Have you ever seen Pakistani parents going to a child’s school in the afternoon or weekend to cheer them on in a school match? Almost never! When people are involved, they create the proper environment for their kids and would never tolerate incompetent officials even for a week. This is how it’s done in the West.
    Media too is to blame. They have a duty to shape society. News in Pakistan revolves around Government, politicians , and which bus killed how many in an accident. In the west, local news come first. The local school or city team is more important than the Interior Minister. The guest of honor at these events is someone who achieved something in the sport, not your Corp Commander . Everything is not government’s responsibility. They too are an extension of the society it represents.
    When the people of Pakistan decide to fix their society, Olympic medals will follow. They themselves are the root cause of all failure be it sports or anything else. So please don’t blame the players

    • shahid khawja says:

      I fully agree with Rizwan Hamid that the society needs to take an active part to bring about the change and not to blame the players. Just to make it short a few suggestions which I doubt the Government will implement. We have so many other important problems to solve like energy for Industry & domestic use etc
      1-Financial Resources for a latest turf being used in International Hockey events.
      2-Coach to be appointed from the present team.
      3-More training academies in all provinces & young players to picked from these academies- And I hope the Politicians & the ruling class keeps away from the selection committee. Also equal opppurtunity to all propective players.
      4- Non Stop round the year training. We only train our teams just a few months before the world cup or Olypics.
      5-Financial support to prospective players so that they must complete their education alongwith Hockey so they get respectable job to support their families.

      Sorry if I am asking too much, but I wish the days of Samiullah & Islah could come back.

  18. I Ahmed says:

    The hockey gave has evolved past Pakistan! When we had Dutch coaches we did fairly well. The game has changed, having players, coaches and trainers who are still living in the glory days of 70’s is resulting in performances that do not challenge the best in the world. It requires mind-set change – foreign coaches, fair selection and more astroturfs in the country is the answer if Pakistan want to be competitive. Else, make gilli-danda our national game, we will do extremely well in that.

  19. Raza says:

    I keep reading and hearing about changing players and the management etc etc.I would say that’s a very short sited approach would do nothing to achieve what we are looking for,below are some points one needs to take in account

    .Majority of our players are from small town and villages and learn the game on mud fields.
    .Those fortunate enough get the chance to play on grass.
    .The few selected ones come and play on AstroTurf ,by that time their game techniques style and habits
    have been formed and matured.
    .The difference between playing on grass and AstroTurf is like playing on grass and on a metaled road.
    .The entire dynamics of the game change starting from the hockey stick to the ball down to the type of
    muscles of your shin and thighs.
    . The Europeans on the contrary have AstroTurf in their Schools and district grounds so their players
    start playing hockey on AstroTurf,their style technique and muscles are formed from day one and now
    all they need is stamina and improve on their skills.
    .The traditional hockey has now been changed so much it resembles ice hockey played in most western
    .Now our problem is we are a mix bag of Asian style and European style hockey minus the stamina,its
    time we learn that on AstroTurf the Asian style will not work the Europeans have insured that.
    .Install as much of Astro Turfs as possible all over the breeding grounds of hockey players.
    and you might get some results we all are looking for.

  20. shabut says:

    The Govt. just need to take one simple step, have some mercy on the suffering people of Pakistan and just leave for God’s sake.

  21. Fahad Rehman says:

    First of all it is really saddening to see the state of affairs in which our sports are today and the way Pakistan was ousted by Australia with such a thrashing defeat. Following steps should be taken for all sports in general if Pakistan wants to compete at a level playing field with the rest of the world which has achieved a highly advanced competitive edge. Players can’t be blamed alone for this, there is a lot of void that must be covered to achieve that status.

    1) Substantial investments are needed at lower tier of the sports infrastructure in the country. Stadiums, ground facilities, quality academies and clubs are required to promote young blood, who can later rise through the ranks to register their place in national and first class teams in a competitive environment.

    2) The role of politics, favoritism, nepotism and all such malign practices should be completely discouraged in the field of sport.

    3) Management of sport Ministry portfolio should be the sole responsibility of active agile members from the same specific sport that they are managing, and they should be highly trained, specialized to fulfill the duties of their job description. Ex-players with decent career records without any taints in the past, and those who are still mentally and physically fit should be selected for such demanding jobs.

    4) The use of modern equipment, state of art gyms, physicians and staff for proper grooming of players are the utmost necessity, if Pakistan wants to see success in these sports and Olympics. We are very well aware of the support system of developed countries for these athletes, who are given all sorts of technological support and gadgets even those that pertains to their attire. Just blaming players in such situation is not a very sane way of solving the dilemma. However, given the socio-economic and political condition of Pakistan such demands seems totally out of proportions. So one is always pessimistic about the future in such a situation.

    5) We also saw most of the participating athletes from these high medal winning developing countries were students from various universities and colleges. Which clearly points out the level of support system that exists at college and university levels for these young students. Ultimately winning them trophies at such bigger stage of world Olympics. Can we even think of such an arrangement in Pakistan? Still we blame and point fingers at players and other nonsensical issues for our failures in sports.

    There may be a lot of more concerns relating to the failure of Pakistan in sports at international arena. But all in all, socio-economic progress is the ultimate solution to emerge at the stage of all these global welfare events making fame and name for your country.

    • sikander says:

      Well said! But will you expect this present government to do anything to improve. Present government and opposition leaders spend their all energy in looting and pulling legs of each other. Nobody talks about developing projects to facilitates the citizens. Public is fed up of their false promises and mismanagement. Education and sports will end extremism and promote healthy minds to flourish.

  22. Bakhtawer Bilal says:

    We should collectively pray that we get gold medal. That is what we do. That is what we can do.

  23. Apoorva says:

    I am appalled to see the Indian and Pakistani teams.They were clearly out of sorts in the entire competition.The reason for their failure is that the players spend too much time showing off their dribbling skills where as the European teams work on making quick passes….Sad to see the one time champs in such a miserable state

  24. Agha Ata says:

    NO steps needed for the government take to improve the state of the national game. Failure has been the mainstream of Pakistani tendency. We need a charismatic leader who could instill the spirit of success and confidence in masses; unfortunately we have none. The present government is run by a bunch of confused people and the precious talents that people have is being abused and rotten. “Dawn” is the only window that is letting some fresh air in, to let the smell of this disgusting rottenness escape.

  25. Nadeem says:

    Its time players should be selected on merit and we have enough shifitng Hockey, Cricket and other games to Lahore as the team we get is a provincial team not a national team. The scandals in Cricket from Chairman to Players is well known to everyone and all the main figures belong to the same province and brought shame to Pakistan

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