By Atiya Riffat
It is very easy to start blaming the individuals running the hockey federation for Pakistan’s predicament but there are many reasons for the game’s decline,Pakistan hockey. It is not unusual to talk about it in the past tense now.World Cup winners, Olympics giants; the kings of hockey. The way things have turned out, all of it seems like a myth. The behaviour of the government towards the national sport tops that list.
Financial issues have always dogged the national federation. And with the passage of time it demanded an increase in funding from the government. But Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) does not even own a single stadium, let alone generate enough revenue to support itself.
The PHF has been knocking all doors with the hopes of getting funded or sponsors but they have struggled. It is a natural outcome of the federation not being transparent in its financial dealings and the public and private sectors not seeing any results.
The incompetency of the federations and even the government officials who are responsible for the demise of the national sport ultimately trickles down and it is the players who suffer the most.
But it’s not just hockey, all sports in the country have suffered due to a lack of professionals in the national federations. Many athletes have gone on record to reveal that they never received a single penny of the amount announced as a reward by the government for their achievements.
Victories and victorious athletes have only been used as photo ops by the government and political parties.The system has failed. In reality, there is no system.Now, apart from hockey not being played in schools, there is no domestic calendar and no coaching standard. But we should not ignore the condition of our players.
There is no professional physiotherapist, physical trainer, nutritionist, video analyst and goalkeeper trainer with the team. There is one doctor with the team.
This is the situation at the national level, so you can only imagine how bad it will be at the lower levels.
At the end of the day, like so many other national sports bodies around the world, it has to sustain itself. For me these players are the real heroes. Despite of all of this, they still manage to bring home a few medals. The silver medal in Asian Games and Asian Champions Trophy 2014 are examples.