Uniform set-up will help India, Pakistan hockey: Tahir Zaman

New Delhi: Pakistan hockey great Tahir Zaman believes if India and his country could work out a uniform sub-continental coaching structure and manual, both could benefit immensely branding their own unique hockey style.

Zaman, who played a key role in Pakistan’s 1994 Sydney World Cup victory, said the Indian and Pakistani players get confused by different theories propounded at different stages by sub-continental coaches.

“The problem is that in India and Pakistan, there isn’t a uniform coaching structure. Coaches drill into the minds of their wards different philosophies and styles of play. A player is normally trained by two-three coaches and when he gets into the national team, he is made to unlearn quite a few things, creating doubts and confusion in his mind,” Zaman, the captain of the bronze-winning team at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, told IANS.

“That’s why there is no uniform style or consistency in their performance. That`s the main reason for the wild swings in performance graph. Sometimes we do very well and sometimes it is shockingly abysmal."

"If our players receive the same kind of hockey knowledge right through their career, they will perform a lot better,” added Zaman, who is here as a consultant to the Pakistani side playing in the ongoing Junior World Cup.

Pakistan hockey suffered a major jolt in August when the four times champions failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup. It was as big a blow as eight times Olympic champions India’s failure to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Games.

“We must have structured coaching programmes and manual for coaches. Unless the coaches get their hockey knowledge updated regularly, they won’t be able to produce quality players. The better the coaches, the better players they produce. This was one of the chief reasons why we failed to qualify for the World Cup,” said Zaman.

The 44-year-old, who is also the coach to Pakistan senior team, said both countries need to follow the European model coaching structure, educating the coaches constantly.

“We need to have a synchronised coaching structure from top to bottom. Take the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium, for instance. They use a single development programme and the same high performance coaching from top to bottom. So when a player reaches the national team, he doesn’t struggle much as he is well versed with style and substance as he is taught the same techniques right from his younger days,” said Zaman.

“Plus the European club competition is so well organised at the grassroot level. The coaches are invariably up to date and the young ones are taught the right technique. If we implement these methods sincerely, in five years we will also reach the heights our fans want to see us at.”

Zaman is also not happy with the performance of the Pakistan team in the World Cup here at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium.

“We were hoping to carry on with the momentum of winning the Asian Champions Trophy, but unfortunately the players look like they are struck by the World Cup phobia. They are playing under stress and they are unable to exhibit their skills fully,” said the former Pakistan captain.

Pakistan managed to scrape past minnows Egypt 3-2 in their first match and suffered a disastrous 1-6 loss against defending champions Germany. With only a match remaining against table toppers Belgium, it will be difficult for Pakistan to secure a quarter-final berth.

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