Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Comment on Pakistan hockey

Shazia Hasan writes the following on the state of Pakistani hockey (Linky). Unfortunately, I cannot agree with her more, the London episode is going to be a disaster unless of course the young Pakistani team is going to use that as the precise excuse to push above the bar, which has happened often in the past. But then this is not a long-term solution, sooner than later the "above the bar" adrenaline will cool down. I want people such as Shakeel Abbasi, Imran Warsi, Rehan Butt and Zeeshan Ashraf to play in the Olympics.

For one, the Hockey India apparatus has been toothless in fighting the FIH menace and there is no better candidate in today's world politics to thumb a nose at useless world bodies such as the UN or the NATO or Geneva Convention than Pakistan. At least such a behavior from PHF (under the express order of the ISI-D/Army) will make the spineless HI apparatus to follow the lead (hopefully!) and start hitting with the belt of being a billion+ person country.

For two, lo and behold, India and Pakistan meet each other, I dont want it to be a dud contest where one team comes up with a B-team and punches above the bar to make a vain attempt at winning the contest. For many, the Rome spectacle may have healed, but not for me. So sorry, but thats how life is. There is no camaraderie on the field, its a war, Total WAR. And thats the only thing I agree with the Johan Cryuff school of thought.

For three, there is no equal competition to the European toilet-sized nations, but the AHF. Unfortunately, this clique is a three-way split between India, Pakistan and Malaysia with the Koreans picking the jars at random. Datu S. Alagendra has his own axe to grind and its a zero-sum game in that sense, and it need not be so. While I dont love the Ordos ACT experience or the 4th place finish in the 2010 Asian Games or the locus standi of Qatar hosting the next Asia Cup, initiatives for events such as the World Cup, the Champions Trophy, etc., have come from Asia (sorry, could nt misappropriate the South Asian bug that is so common in Guardian-speak, if you get it!).

For four, it is mightily unfair to penalize Shakeel Abbasi or Imran Warsi (who did play for the team I will always rally behind, of course) for a crime of the PHF/FIH making. I just dont like the Cheetahs name, of course, its more like Madras Superstars or Madras Raakit-rajas, thats more in tune with the ethos of Madras.

For five, good subcontinental hockey is a dying (some say, dead) tradition and as much as I would like to see/hear about the likes of Rashid Mehmood, that should not be at the cost of people who are now suspended.

For six, this is most likely Sohail Abbas' last major event before his impending retirement, and noone wants to ruin it. The only equally-comparable event is to see Dilip Tirkey's fourth Olympics appearance get ruined at Santiago, followed by more ruinations at the Punjab Gold Cup, WC and the CWG.

PS: And the Indian media can learn a thing or two from the Pakistani media coverage of hockey, someone had to say it first. Pakistani media is more well-versed with the global machinations and the rulebook of different events than the Indian media has shown it to be from many past exhibits that I have noted. Unfortunate for a b+ country.

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