Hockey: Erosion of the National Sport & the Curse of Nawaz Sharif

Nawaz Sharif’s era will be remembered as worst for sports particularly Hockey in Pakistan. Our national game hockey’s present state in Pakistan is far poorer than that of cricket.

National Performance

Pakistan is currently ranked 13th in the world.

Over the last one year, the national team has suffered defeats by humiliating margins including worst ever 1-9 against Australia. Against India, our traditional rivals, at the World Hockey Series League in London in 2017, Pakistan lost 1-7 and 1-6 in the same tournament. Even against the lowly-ranked Canada, Pakistan suffered a 0-6 loss. They have thrice lost to Japan, another low ranked side, during this period.

Financial Affairs

Apart from the performance, financial affairs of PHF have also become a source of embarrassment.

A number of times, the federation failed to pay the national team’s players their daily allowances in time.

A couple of times, players openly protested about it in the media.

The employees of the PHF have also not been receiving their monthly salaries on time. Sometimes, there is a delay of over two months.

All this despite PHF receiving huge grants especially from the federal government time and again, often worth tens of millions of rupees sometimes even hundreds of millions.

Today, private sponsorship plays a major role in running sports.

PHF has completely failed to obtain any meaningful patronage from the private sector.

Nepotism & Lack of Meritocracy

Nepotism and total disregard of merit prevail.

President PHF’s brother is the secretary of Punjab Hockey Association. His first cousin is the executive secretary of the Punjab Hockey Association.

His nephew has been employed in the PHF with total disregard to the rules.

There are quite a few other instances where favorites have been given jobs. They draw salaries without doing anything with many just sitting at home.

Hockey, Least Priority for the President PHF

PHF President’s daytime job is MD/CE of Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation in Islamabad.

The PHF HQ is located at Lahore. President only visits the PHF HQ once in three to four months.

Moreover, he has serious health issues especially the liver problem. He had had a liver transplant in China in 2017 and has been revisiting that country for the checkups.

Pakistan Hockey League; A Non-Starter

Ever since he assumed the office, more than two years back, the PHF president has been repeatedly telling the media that Pakistan Hockey League will shortly be launched on the lines of cricket’s PSL.

But there has been absolutely no development in this regard.

Secretary-General PHF; only his yes man.

PHF’s secretary general is Pakistan’s former captain Shahbaz Ahmad. Though, one of the all-time greats of the game, he is the proverbial ‘Yes Man. Shahbaz is completely dictated by the president PHF.

He too spends most of the time in Islamabad with his family or with the president PHF at latter’s PMDC office. Shahbaz’s appearances at the PHF HQ, Lahore are usually once in 6-8 weeks.

Right Persons for the Job

President:

Some big business magnate of the country with interest in hockey should be appointed as the president of the PHF.

PSL is the biggest evidence. The owners of the franchises have been patronizing their teams in a manner never witnessed in Pakistan’s sports history.

Secretary-General: One name stands out

Taqueer Dar (Olympic gold medallist, 1984) is the ideal choice for the slot of Secretary-General PHF.

Taqueer Dar has the proven ability.

The way he has been running the Dar Hockey Academy (DHA) without any help from the government speaks for itself.

Dar Hockey Academy has made five tours of Europe plus one each of India and Malaysia.

It has become the biggest reservoir of talent continuously supplying quality players to Pakistan’s national and age group teams.

ALL THROUGH PRIVATE SPONSORSHIP.

Dar Hockey Academy has also conducted hockey tournaments in Lahore including All Pakistan events.

In December 2012, through Taqueer Dar’s efforts, a star-studded Flying Dutch Veterans team comprising Holland’s former Olympians and World Cuppers toured Lahore and played three matches against Punjab Veterans (comprising Pakistan’s former stars), Dar Hockey Academy and Aitchison College.
Remember, those were the day when terrorism in Pakistan was at its peak.

Yet, Taqueer managed to convince and bring the Dutch hockey stars, apart from making all the arrangements in Pakistan.

Taqueer Dar ticks all the boxes.

Sponsors of Dar Hockey Academy include overseas Pakistani and even Europeans.

In 2012, a shipment from Holland was sent to Pakistan by the Dutch who have been hosting Dar Hockey Academy all these years. It contained hockey sticks, balls, shoes and goalkeeping kits.

Dar Hockey Academy distributed quite a few of these items among needy clubs in different parts of the country.

All the Pakistani age group teams since 2009 have included Dar HA boys.

Since 2013, Dar Hockey Academy players have been gaining selection in almost all the Pakistan’s national (senior) teams.

This Academy is often referred to as a Role Model in Pakistan for all sports.

In view of the foregoing, a reputed dynamic business personality like Messers Razzaq Dawood or Salim Ghauri CEO NetSol, may be appointed as President PHF; and Taqueer Dar as Secretary General PHF, with a specific task to uplift the game of Hockey in Pakistan within one year.

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