Pakistan must work seriously to save national game: Shahnaz
Downcast after Pakistan failed to qualify for the 2016 Olympics post their World League Semifinals loss to Ireland, hockey coach Shahnaz Sheikh said that it's high time that the stakeholders start working seriously to save the national game.
Antwerp (Belgium): Downcast after Pakistan failed to qualify for the 2016 Olympics post their World League Semifinals loss to Ireland, hockey coach Shahnaz Sheikh said that it's high time that the stakeholders start working seriously to save the national game.
The Muhammad Imran-led team went down to Ireland 0-1 in the playoffs to send the country in mourning as it will be the first time that there will be no Pakistan hockey at the Rio Games. One of the most successful hockey teams in the Summer Games, Pakistan are only below India (eight) and Germany (four) in number of Olympic Gold medals won.
"This is terrible for Pakistan hockey," says Shahnaz, also a former captain and Olympian, who from the sidelines saw his misfiring strikers squander several goal-scoring chances at the KHC Dragons Stadium.
This was the last chance for Pakistan to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games, after losing the Asian Games final to India in Incheon last year.
Pakistan's loss in the first play-off for the fifth to eighth spots means now they cannot finish above the seventh position in this tournament and the Olympic spots for 12 teams from both World League Semifinals cannot go below the sixth place.
"If you don't score goals, you lose. It is as simple as that," said Shahnaz, asserting that Pakistan hockey needs some serious backing.
"We in Pakistan need to work seriously to save our national game," Shahnaz said. "There needs to be some very serious thought for hockey's sake."
Shahnaz said his players were hampered by the lack of resources and had just few international outings in the past one and a half year.
"Apart from playing in the Asian Games and the Champions Trophy, we did not have adequate international exposure," said Shahnaz.
Last year, Pakistan had failed to feature among the 12 teams for the 2014 World Cup, an event that they have won more times than any other country.
"The lack of resources is affecting Pakistan hockey's international performance. No operation can be run without adequate fuel," said Shahnaz.
Shahnaz warned that things can get worse for Pakistan hockey if no effort is made to revive the sport.
"If a sustained effort is not made for hockey's sake, there could be more of such disasters," Shahnaz said.