Sunday, February 25, 2024
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A Country That Stopped Playing Hockey

Mansoor Ali

5,  4, 3, 2, 1 HONK!! Sometimes it feels as the match ends that a diesel run, coughing Pakistani truck is parked near the hockey field. I heard this dreadful sound again that day when Pakistan lost to Australia 7-0.

All major channels were quick to flash red tickers telling this power-hungry – corruption stricken public that they have shamefully lost their chance to win a hockey medal in Olympics – yet again.  Some newscasters were quick to shout at the peak of their voice informing the viewers that we have lost so miserably.

Some of them started asking analytical questions to ex-Olympians, trying to dig out the reason for this defeat (as if we were the favorites and Australia was bound to loose and this shouldn’t have happened).  Well, the fact is that it did, now back from the horrifying memories of that miserable day, wear your water powered jet-suits and fly 15000 feet above this territory of Pakistan and just look at this country which thought it had the ‘right’ to win.

In the field of Hockey, we have developed this idea that as it’s our National game, we should do much much better than what we actually do. Every time we lose, we debate about sacking of the coach, the manager, the captain or the goal-keeper (for who I sometimes have the greatest sympathies) anyone who comes in the team line up or is connected with the federation.

Before asking for such demands we should stand in front of a mirror and see how good are we as a sport “playing” nation – read playing once again because we can be a sports-loving nation but we are hardly a sports playing nation any more. The chintoos and bantoos of our house have to earn all the awards in his education but when it comes to sports we think of it as something sinful for our children. How many of us have actually gone out our houses to see where we can get our kids to get hockey-lessons or which is nearest hockey academy.

Another preposterous argument that is given after we give when we lose is that we used to be so good and we were undefeatable, what happened to us, who did this to us. Wake-up !! we did this to ourselves, we stopped playing hockey as a nation – SIMPLE !

Back in the 70s and 80s hockey was not the same hockey that is played today. Austo-turf wasn’t there, the game was slower, we had the offside rule which helped us in our strategy, there were far less nations to compete with. Things are completely different now, the game has not only become technical and commercial it has also become more attractive for nations who never even thought they would play hockey – China is one such example. Its better to wake-up and be realistic.

We love to call our aunts, uncles, friends and all those in our speed-dial list to cricket finals but we hardly think the same way about hockey. Most of us don’t even know the 11 players who won against South Africa or were slaughtered against Australia. When was the last time any of you saw a match in National Championship?

Last word for the media, where it isalways good to pump up the team and your viewers in your pre-match reports, being realistic would also be helpful. Making the players demi-gods is never going help because no matter how much one argues but the fact is that we stopped playing Hockey and Hockey stopped rewarding us – Simple !


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