Yes it was … For a country where the national game is now a source of embarrassment, where hockey players go for penalty corners rather than field goals and where even the team’s loss is hailed as a moralistic victory by the authorities, anything is possible. For five years we have been hearing that Pakistan hockey team will get back on the winning track but sadly, the graph of the team’s performance continues to go down. For those who follow the game and still love it, the defeat at the hands of India a few days back was shocking, if not eye-opening. So, if the Indian officials have said NO to sending their team to Pakistan, or even touring Pakistan, they must have their reasons.
What reasons could it be then, you may ask? First of all, we all know that Pakistan is not safe for international sports. Even I would not play a match here if given the option to play elsewhere. The non-serious attitude of the politicians as well as the government is to be blamed for this scenario because they do things, the consequences of which effect Pakistan’s sporting relations.
The decision to not send the hockey team to Pakistan was taken by Indian officials just one day after the Parliament in Islamabad criticized India’s handling of the Afzal Guru case. Was such a comment even necessary because not only does this mean that Pakistan supported the terrorist but it also sent a message across the border that we would do whatever we like, and you can do whatever you can! I will not be surprised if someone does confess that the Parliament’s comments made them rethink the bilateral hockey series next month.
Former Pakistan skipper and legendary hockey player Shehbaz Ahmed, on the other hand, feels that no team in the world would like to play against Pakistan, considering they lose to teams below their ranking. He feels that the Indian officials must have thought after watching the greenshirts in action that playing against Pakistan would do them no good, since it would damage their hockey, rather than improve it. I must say, I agree with the maestro’s comments because the way the greenshirts are performing in the on-going Azlan Shah Hockey tournament, can be termed pathetic and unimpressive at the same time.
So where does Pakistan hockey go from here? Nowhere sadly, because in the last few years, fans of the game in the country have learnt that whenever they expect their team to win, it fails … and whenever they know that it would fail, they pass with flying colours. We are the Asian Games champions as well as the winners of the last Asian Champions’ Trophy, but in the lane of Champions’, we have a lot of distance to cover. There may be light at the end of the tunnel, but from the current performance of the Pakistan side, we may be rest assured that load shedding is keeping that light away!