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Karachi has always remained the factory of manufacturing national heroes and has blessed the hockey world and Pakistan with some world class hockey players. Whenever we talk about Karachi and hockey, our minds, our automatically hit with huge names like the legend Mr. Hassan Sardar, Mr. Hanif Khan, Mr. Issalhuddin, Akhterul Islam, Shahid Ali Khan Mansoor Ahmed, Ahmed Aalm, Waseem Feroz, Qamar Ibrahim, Kamran Ashraf, Sohail Abbas and many others.
School Sports: Role played by Habib Public School in keeping hockey alive:
Those who are related to sports and Hockey will definitely agree that Habib Public School has played the played the crucial and vital role in promoting this particular sport along with the others and has acted as the main Karachi hockey academy for generating national and international hockey players. HPS has been the only school in Pakistan that took our national game seriously, encouraged youngsters to pursue it and provided quality sports education under great leadership to all the young players. History has witnessed HPS’s contribution to Hockey. Incredible players including,Hassan Sardar, AayazMehmood, Safdar Abbas, Qamar Ibrahim, Kamaran Ashraf, HaiderhussainSohail Abbas, Asif Ahmed Khan, IjazKhoker, FarazHaider, Shabbir, Ahmed Khan, Abbas Haider, SibtainRaza and a lot of others who have not only represented Pakistan in Junior sides, but most of them who have played at higher and senior levels in Pakistan, all are the product this prestigious institute.
The most respectable and legendary coach Late Mr. Waheed Ahmed Saab was the name behind the HPS hockey success. He had a hawk’s sight when it came to finding the talent during inter house hockey tournament and polished them into diamonds in a very short period of time. He very well knew his role and job and was an extremely hard working person
Not many hockey lovers are aware of this interesting fact, but Pakistan’s Hockey team has always been incomplete without a Habibian. I am myself a Habib Public alumni and Ex-international hockey player and I am very proud of being a Habibian.
YMCA Hockey Club, Customs Hockey Club, and Al Saghir Hockey Club have also played a very important role in the development of young and adult players and has also produced several Olympians and international hockey players.
I must appreciate the efforts of Mr. Shahbi Abbas and his efforts. He justified himself as the successful Director of sports in HPS and Director of YMCA hockey club where Mr. IrshadHaider, Mazhar Mohammad, and some other dedicated coaches also performed their duties very well, and took this Club to different a level. This club produces the best Goal keepers for the Pakistani National Teams like our legend
MrShahid Ali Khan, Mansoor Ahmed, Ahmed Aalam and Aijaz Khoker. All these names became a wall for Pakistan’s Hockey team defense.
I also appreciate the hard work of Mr. Saghir Ahmed, the founder of Al Sagheer Hockey Club, who put his best in bringing this club at the top level and produced several International players and Olympians in Pakistan that include players like Sameer Hussain, Aijaz Rasool, Mubashir Mukhtar, Asad Quraishi and many others.
I very much admire our Legend Mr. Hanif Khan. You would witness him every single day at the hockey pitch. Numbers never mattered to him. He was always busy in working on maturing the players. One thing that was really famous of his club was that you could learn hockey under his coaching and some other big names like Farhat khan, Mohammad Ali, Haider Hussain, Waseem Feroz, Kashif Jawad and others. One felt lucky to play with these legends for 5 minutes. Playing with them gave youngsters a chance to boost up their confidence. Their tips took players to a different level altogether.
This club’s role was to work on the mature players and it also worked on Pakistan’s young talent like Olympian Haseem Khan, Int- Asim Khan, Owais Khan and many more.
At the moment, these clubs are almost finished and they are fighting for their survival. There are so many things behind these crises, especially the behavior of PHF. They have totally neglected Karachi hockey. They should ask this question from KHA but unfortunately PHF needs some regional votes. After PHF elections, they leave and isolate the KHA.
It really hurts when you see no representation of Karachi in national, juniors and senior teams. In some age group like Pak U-16 there is not a single player from Karachi in the entire camp. I’m not blaming PHF for not selecting players in camps or in the teams, I’m just saying that I don’t understand that why PHF is not taking KHA seriously. It was quite oblivious that KHA has totally failed to raise the standard of Karachi hockey and failed to improve and modify the structure, what worries me is the fact that why is PHF appointing the same people again and again?
Jan 2015 to August 2016 KHA didn’t organize an inter-club competition, after 2014 club championship there has been no activity in the club hockey at all. Senior and junior championship performances are not satisfactory at all. There is no camping, etc for the event; actually Karachi’s team has participated in these events for just the heck of it. They have set no targets. Why are they spending money on these tours when they have no courage to take a stand for the deserving players. Since ages Karachi players have been struggling to get a chance in the Camps.
And the worst happened when the PHF organized a camp for the Youth Olympic Games in Lahore and due to short notice, the camp was announced without any trials. Here the KHA could have suggested a few upcoming players to the PHF, but unfortunately they suggested a coach rather than any players and the young Karachi players missed the opportunity to learn and improve themselves in the camp. This did not happen only in this age group, even in juniors and seniors too, where the chief selectors, Senior team coach, junior team head coach are from Karachi, even they didn’t find a single player who could represent the national team in future ‘What a Joke!’
When young players don’t get a chance to participate in these kind of camps, then how are they ever going to improve and get more involved in hockey. At this point and time what players need is a little appreciation which they are obviously not getting at all.
This is the main reason why Karachi youngsters are not preferred to come at the ground. They need some assistance, some help to become better, to improve themselves and keep them motivated. We are now losing a lot of young, talented players. It has been ages to when some faces were discovered from KHA. It shows that something is going wrong. Not only PHF knows that, but due to some political reasons, there is no check and balance they just need some regional votes.
Attitude is everything and in this decade KHI player’s attitude has been changed drastically. They are assuming that they are the victims of ‘Racism‘ and PHF is biased in selections and they only select players who are from Punjab but in real they not realizing that how much hockey is being played in Karachi! How many Ex Olympians and Internationals are working at grass root level! How many local tournaments are organized by KHA.
Players are so disheartened and demotivated at the moment. They don’t belong to rich families. They also have some responsibilities and pressures from their families. Every parent has concerns regarding their children’s future, when they see there is no progress in their Hockey career then they start forcing their kids to concentrate on their studies or to pursue something else in their career, and to be honest they are right!
Olympians & International Role:
Apart from the KHA performance, there is no one who can take a responsibility to work on the grass root level. This is so unfortunate that there is not a proper academy in Karachi or a proper hockey club, even KHI has 2 blue pitches and 3 Green pitches, but there is no one who can utilize these facilities properly. There’s only one so called evening academy is running, but they are using Mr. Sagheer Ahmed, the founder of AlSagheer Hockey club members. Actually, Mr. Sagheer has no choice, he needs a ground to run his club after UBL sports complex taken over by Mr Jan Muhammad, so he has sacrificed his club name and has brought his setup to this pitch. The worst thing is that you are not allowed to train on this pitch until you fully become a member of this club. So a lot of players who want to do some extra training, they get deprived of the chance to use these facilities. Let me clear one thing, this pitch belongs to Pakistan Government and it does not belong to an any individual and no one has the rights to become the owner of this pitch, but unfortunately, no one raises the voice against this crime because these people are a permanent member of PHF club. Yes, I call this a crime. Pakistan’s hockey is dying and youngsters are not interested in playing hockey at all when these kind of selfish people with their ego are not allowing youth to train themselves. This is a crime. Actually, these are people are the responsible for the downfall of Pakistan hockey.
There has been a lot of conflicts within the KHA itself. As previous secretaries where there only to boost their names rather than boosting the game of Hockey, previous elections, which were held in the month of November at that moment too many clubs were formed anonymously just for the sake of votes and immediately without any planning a tournament was scheduled. At that moment any Hockey lover could realize that the level of players and hockey was not upto the mark. Secondly, the level of umpiring in these tournaments seemed to be pathetic as those umpires doesn’t know the latest rules that have been implemented in international hockey.
I see lots of Hockey legends only in the newspapers and on TV shows, where they are bashing the current Federation or busy in blaming previous Federation all the time and after a few weeks and months they become selectors, coaches and gain some other positions in PHF, and when you ask them why you are not selecting Karachi players in the camps/teams then they reply that there is not a single player who deserve to attend the camp. Wow. BRILLIANT! Who is going to work with these players then? They have always pretended that they are working very hard to bring Pakistan hockey on the right track and to bring some young talent in the industry. So now where is all your hard work? Don’t you think we need to be a little sincere to our national game?
Karachi Umpires are also struggling to make a place in the mainstream. Mr. Shahid is the only one who is doing his hardest to get to the International standard, and there is no improvement and working in this section at all. Young umpires are feeling neglected; there are not much hockey events in Karachi where Umpires can improve their standards. It’s all about the KHA structure and a system where there is no vision and plans for the young umpire’s development, and the PHF is not taking Karachi hockey seriously to be honest!
Karachi women’s hockey has disappeared somewhere; recently they didn’t participate in the women’s indoor hockey tournament in Islamabad either.
Women’s hockey is struggling In Pakistan, but Karachi women’s hockey is dying due to politics. I am saying this because women hockey players aren’t allowed to train at different pitches due to some KHA Politics… what a shame! The Sports world is moving too fast and we are still busy in tug of war of positions.
Sports Media Silence:
There was a time when Karachi media were proactive and neutral for Karachi hockey, but unfortunately there are only a few media personalities left, previously they are providing a platform for the so called hockey professionals, and these people are blackmailing PHF to get some positions in the federation and it wouldn’t be wrong to say that they have been successful in doing so.
I didn’t mean that all media persons are doing this, but we have a right to question when our media is quite on so many things, including the isolation of KHI players and its system by PHF. Their biased TV shows and reporting are hiding the truth.
While Karachi hockey players are complaining, I must appreciate the hard work of Punjab’s Ex Olympians & Internationals. Most of the ex players are running clubs and academies voluntarily. Even though they don’t have any water base pitches around, but they run morning and evening sessions and play more local tournaments, which improve their players’ fitness and confidence. This is the main reason why Punjab players are not only improving, they are building a strong desi basics and players are getting competitive environment. This happens when PHF takes something seriously.
PHF Coaching Clinics:
PHF has taken a good step to educate local coaches and it has started a Level 1 hockey coaching certification in a desi style during the senior championship in Karachi, Dec 2016 where coaches can learn modern coaching skills and improve their coaching ability. I was invited by PHF as a Strength and Conditioning coach to give some basic knowledge of the training system and sports nutrition, it went well during the championship and coaching course, I realized that 90% of the coaches don’t know about the warming up and warming down exercises. They are still doing 1960’s style warming up in 2016 National Championship, where all the best players and coaches are participating. The most disappointing thing was the very low participation of Karachi coaches in this coaching clinic, it was a very good opportunity for all local coaches to learn from FIH high performance coaches. The turnout was not bad, but, only 3 coaches from Karachi participated in this course and the rest of them were from Baluchistan and Interionor Sindh. This attitude shows that we think we knows everything we really don’t want to learn anything, we need to realize that coaching is that not easy as we think, the world is progressing so fast and due to this attitude we are going down.
New KHA Appointments:
Recently PHF appointed a new and young Ex International Haider Hussain as a secretary of KHA, and we all are having a high hopes from him, I hope he will keep out his self from the dirty politics and bring back Karachi Hockey on track.
I request to PHF please inquire about the Govt new blue pitches and allow everyone to use them rather than two personalities, and also please form a KHA academy in the supervision of HOCKEY PROFESSIONAL.
‘Nothing is Impossible’
Cuddled up to my pillow in my blanket on a chilly winter morning, I was half awake and half asleep waiting for my mom to wake me up for school and just like any other kid on a cold morning, I also wanted to skip school that day. I was busy thinking of reasons and suddenly the alarm struck, it was 6:30 AM and mom showed up to my room, “Hurry up, AD! Wake up son, I need to go to work early today. Come on, wake up or else I’ll be late!” I got up half-heartedly and showed up to the breakfast table quickly after dressing up. While putting Jam on my toast I realized that my dad wasn’t ready for his office. I asked him the reason of his delay and he said he wasn’t going. I was a little surprised because he seldom took off from work, so obviously I asked him why he wasn’t going and that’s when he told me that it our national television will be telecasting the Hockey World Cup Final and the match was between Pakistan and Netherlands.
I got a reason for an off too, and with dad’s help we convinced my mom and it was finally a day off from school.
As the match began, my father started to tell me the rules and knowhow of the game. The final one was a dream and the decider came through penalties. In the end Monsoor Ahmed GK of Pakistan saved the last penalty flick of Delmie and Pakistan made history on 4 of December 1994 by showing up as Hockey World Champions! Woo!! What a game it was, I still remember the moment we won; the excitement, the adrenaline rush that I felt in my body. Everyone in my building started to celebrate the win and dad and I both joined the celebrations too.
As I took to bed that night at 10:00 pm a few names remained stuck to my mind. Mr. Shahbaz Senior, Tahir Zaman, Kamran Ashraf, Qammar Ibrahim, Khwaja Junaid, Mansoor Ahmed, Delmie and Stephen Veen. It was that day when I decided that I wanted to be a professional hockey player and that historical day changed my entire life. My passion and hobby turned into my profession and now I have been working as a professional hockey Coach/Player for almost 15 years. This final game of the hockey world cup, gave me an Identity, wearing a green shirt and representing Pakistan in different FIH tournaments was more than stuff of any dreams.
In my short career, I saw many ups and down, but I must say the tenure of PHF president Mr. Gen Aziz and Sectary PHF Mr. Brigadier Mussurt Ullah was the best of times. I found myself very lucky to be a part of Pak Jr. and the senior squad in this tenure. They modernized Pakistan Hockey and worked in a professional way. At that time all the senior and junior coaches were FIH’s high performance coaches. For eg: Tahir Zaman, Asif Bajwa, Khwaja Junaid Qammar Ibrahim, Mr Ronald Oltamans and others. Also, in their tenure, the Pakistan hockey federation for the first time organized an FIH course for the local and professional coaches to give a chance to improve their coaching skills and implement modern hockey at grass root level.
During this tenure, Pakistan hockey was not only successful on the field, but also in the marketing department. We got Mr, Sardar Naveed Haider, who did a marvelous job and brought huge sponsors. The result of his hard work was that Pakistan became a host of FIH Champions Trophy and played many home series against different countries. PHF also organized a Super Hockey League for the first time in the history of Pakistan hockey. A lot of foreign players participated in this league and live coverage on TV made this event successful. Medals came in huge numbers during this time and a lot of youngsters also made their name. This PHF management gave us a boost and people all over started to recognize us.
Unfortunately, politics has always been a part of PHF. When this management started to work well, our Ex Olympians started to feel neglected and they began a huge campaign against the federation. In Pakistan, only if you are against the federation, the country’s media will highlight you. The media didn’t bother who spoke what till they had masala for the shows.
The worst part was most of these guests did not have basic qualifications required to be a coach. But in Pakistan if you are an Olympian or an international player that is enough for coaching, managing and trainer. When they become a coach they have nothing to teach. The only thing they do is wearing a green tracksuit, drink tea, eat Samosa on the side and watch players sweat it out. They have no training regimen for players; they have no clue of what players should eat and give them fatty goods and no supplements. They completely lack vision and there is no development program. Their behavior with players is appalling to say the least. They assume of themselves, as kings while the players are slaves of some sort.
This result in stressed players who never enjoy the game. The facilities are poor, which adds to the misery and this means there is no drive from the player’s side to improve him via competition, both domestic and international. This results in very few victories. These kind of coaches are insanely proud of their achievements of the 1960-1994 and don’t want to see beyond them. While we all respect that and we also are proud of them and acknowledge the fact that they are living legends, but as a coach/manager/trainer, etc when I see them, I know not much is coming out as a dividend.
The world of sports has transformed and sports’ coaching has become a subject. A number of nations spend a huge amount of money in the development of their coaches. Belgium is one of the prime examples. Seven years ago when the Belgium, hockey team was struggling to qualify for the European Championship, they spend the right amount of their funds in the development of coaches and systems. They brought in number of foreigner professional coaches who have not played internationals but have also worked on the grass roots levels. These coaches helped them build great processes and the result is for everyone to see. Belgium today is one of the top 5 sides of the world.
Pakistan is the only team in the world who takes a doctor along with the team for the past 15 years. If you have a chance to look at FIH match sheets, then you will find sports physiotherapist and trainers have replaced doctors. England is the only team that also has a Sports Scientist with the team.
Hockey is a pro-active game that requires top fitness and good health and only fit and healthy players are selected in national squads. Hence, what is the need of a doctor? What we are showing to the world? Pro Athletes get muscular and joint injuries, which can be only looked after by sports physiotherapists and trainers.
Disadvantage of an unprofessional Doctor:
I played in The Pakistan Junior Team in 2003, we had a doctor. I observed him quite closely and if there was one thing all players would unanimously to be that he was USELESS. He had no clue regarding physiotherapy but would pretend he knows everything and would always bring his portable massager that was useless. I have known him since then, he is not a qualified trainer, but he runs physical training sessions without any program/plan/targets etc. He is not a sports nutritionist, but he pretends that he is the best one. The worst is that he injects steroids to injured players to make them play in injury and unfortunately a few players finished their careers because of his stupidity. Now the question is why he is around? Maybe because he is a very good entertainer and keeps the management happy and he knows how to play with medical terms. Hats off to PHF officials who come under his influence.
Have you noticed Jamie Dwyer is still playing? Why is that globally top players keep playing even after crossing mid-thirties while Pakistan hockey players mostly struggle after they touch 30. That is because of the fitness issues. This is happening because the players’ fitness if not based on a solid foundation. Hockey is becoming a very high physical demanding game that requires top fitness. You are living in dreams if you think these kind of stupid fake doctors can take these players’ fitness to the international standards.
Tactical and Technical Coaching:
Pakistan has golden memories in hockey. I proudly have said before that we have won several top Gold medals at World Cups and Olympics but have struggled since 1994. Europe and others started research on hockey around that time. They started changing the game’s rules and introduced modern technology and brought fitness professionals to cope up with the game. Pakistan hockey, though kept basking in their glory and never tried coping up. The fact that they never wanted to come out of their successful era and still feel that their old style is good enough is where they fool themselves.
Pakistan should consider itself fortunate that they find so much talent. Unfortunately, talent can win games, but not championships. The players work so hard, but without a set regimen which is of global standards, not much can be achieved. The kind of people running the administration is unqualified professional and are in the majority. They are busy in playing musical chair like in the case of Pakistani politics (Aaj Saadi Vari kal Tuadi Vari).
There is no doubt in my mind when it comes to capabilities. We are fully capable to bounce back, but for that we need to appoint the right people for the right jobs. If the federation keeps appointing their friends who can’t even organize a senior and junior championship and can never be the coach of a local side, the results will be of the standards that we are seeing now.
Video analyzing plays a very important role in this modern era sport. But in Pakistan it’s become a joke where the laptop is an entertaining machine for the officials. I think it’s enough to say this here. We haven’t had any organized online library or any player database system where coaches and players can analyze their performance.
Goal keeping is a totally different department of coaching and unfortunately no one is keen to work in this department. This definitely needs a specialized coach who knows his job rather than someone who rolls 1000 balls on GK pads every day. I think this is the more ignored department in the Pakistan set-up and also unfortunately there is also not a single qualified GK trainer. If you see current international matches, you can find Pakistan goalie dive on his both knees and do some very basic errors that shouldn’t be done at this level. I think Salman Akbar got lucky to have Shahid Ali Khan and Dutch GK coach Ronald Jenson, who polished Salman in a solid defensive wall of Pakistani defense. Unfortunately, due to federation behavior and pathetic policies he didn’t continue his services for his beloved country and moved to Netherland. Pakistan’s most talent GK is running his academy there and playing for a national league club.
Pakistan used to produce quality Grad 1 FIH umpires like Rashid Ali Khan, Faiz Muhammad etc. But currently we have very low representation in FIH. The reason is no development program for umpires and no one wants to be an umpire simply because the federation failed in this department as well. A sad part of the story is no one respects umpires in Pakistan domestic hockey. PHF needs to bring educated players in this department and launch a development program for young umpires for the betterment of hockey in Pakistan.
To be honest, there is no structure in Pakistan Hockey. Where are the academies and where are the academy coaches? Where are the grass root hockey projects? Where is club hockey, where is age hockey? Where is single hockey system?
Sorry to say there is nothing at all and even the so called legends don’t bother to visit a local ground, though they want to become the Head Coach of a National team. In this crappy system, there is no sign of any qualification for any Job. Being an Olympian or an international player qualifies you to be a head coach, which is ridiculous to say the least. It doesn’t matter whether you have played 5 minutes or 5 Olympics; these players sit on TV shows and pretend that they are the best coaches of the world without qualification.
The funny thing is that there is no post of Director of development and Director of coaching, which means there is no check and balance on coach’s performances. These coaches have a free hand and it is this system from which we expect a miracle.
PHF website is down and this highlights the progress of this department (Pun intended).
What we need to do:
We need to introduce a single hockey system ASAP. And also forget international hockey for few years and start working on the grass root level. We need to introduce a basic educational program for sportsmen and women. Start a development program for coaches and umpires, hire professional Trainers/S&C coaches, bring sports professionals on board to build a basic structure. We need honest and sincere people, especially those who really want to do something about this game rather than posting their picture on FB and Tweeter.
Make a criterion for each post, train coaches before they are coaching youngsters, and make sports lessons compulsory in schools. We need Sardar Naveed Haider Khan’s services in the marketing department as I think he is the only person who can help PHF at the moment in the marketing department. We need Waseem Ahmed,Zeshan Ashraf, Salman Akbar, Muddasir Ali Khan, Sohail Abbas, Mohammad Saqlain, Rehan Butt, and others seniors players in the coaching field. These players have played in the modern era and have a good understanding of FIH high performance hockey. Bring Mohammad Faiz in Umpiring department as Umpiring development officer. And in the end bring Mr. Tahir Zaman as director of Coaching with full authority and give him 5 years to build a solid structure.
In Pakistan, there is no sign of a decent way of players retiring. PHF always treats big players like a tissue paper. Then being called in a training camp and didn’t pick them is a recent example of indecency that the recently did with Sohail Abbas, Kashif Jawad, Salman Akber, Rehan Butt, Mohammad Shabbir, Muhammad Sarwar, M. Saqlain, Mohammad Imran and others as well.
Though there are some players who use their brains. For example, I knew the monopoly and the politics of these coaches as I knew them very well. Like me who knows them very well and didn’t take any chance to make get their selves embrace and take an initiative and say bye to PHF with their heavy hearts, I never understand that why PHF invest in players? They select them in a team, give them an exposure and when they become mature and experienced players they kick them out without any sensible grounds. Also, PHF is the only federation who makes the debut of players in the World biggest events like the Olympics.
This is so strange but you can recognize that there is no vision no planning no system. Different nations planned for long times to participate in the Olympics. They designed their programs, select the best available players and started working on them. But In Pakistan there is no security of a player’s career, PHF has always given a shock to their players. This act makes players so stressed during the training camps and even during the competition and if a player is playing in stress, it means he is not going to give his best.
Due to this weird system of no proper Goodbyes, fans are left hurt to see their Super stars being treated like this, for example, if Sohail Abbas took a stand on this then I am sure it would not fall out with Salman Akber and Mohammad Imran and others. That’s all what I can articulate. This is so insulting to our players that we can’t even say proper goodbyes and appreciate our superstars for their services.
Unfortunately, we didn’t learn anything from the past and we are still blaming the players for the recent defeat and made Mohammad Imran and others to resign.
A part of this crap sportive system we still love our national game and we are hoping one day someone changes the disable system and take our national game to the top again.