ISLAMABAD, Oct 23 (APP):Former Olympian Shahbaz Ahmed Senior has urged Pakistan team to give the best against Netherlands in the hockey qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, saying he expects Green-shirts to surprise the Dutch in the games.
The qualifiers would take place in Amsterdam on October 26 and 27. “It would be tough for the national team as World Ranked 17 Pakistan would be up against World No 3 Netherlands. But nothing was impossible. I want my country to win and be on the top as we once ruled the game,” he told APP.
Shahbaz, who led Pakistan side to the 1994 Men’s Hockey World Cup victory, said in order to regain the lost glory in hockey, the concerned authorities need to take visionary and stern steps.
“We need a proper center like a National Hockey academy in Islamabad where we can train players the whole year around having basic facilities like pool, gym, education and a hostel for the players,” he said.
Shahbaz, who was the only player to win two consecutive ‘Player of the Tournament’ awards in the 1990 World Cup in Lahore and in the 1994 World Cup in Sydney, was of the view that we need to groom the under14, U16 and U18 players for future. “We need a proper grant from the government according to the national hockey’s sports Calendar and training commitments,” he said.
“Each time we have to plea for grants to participate in national and international championships. If a proper grant is set for the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) then it can manage the game from the grass-root to top level,” he said.
The former PHF secretary said we also need to educate the players to meet up the international standards. “Our players lack behind as they do not have a proper diet, training facilities and education,” he said.
Shahbaz said players should also be provided with jobs for a living. “I still get a handsome amount annually from the department I work in, therefore jobs important for players,” he said.
He said it was the need of the hour to hold the Pakistan Hockey League (PHL). “If PHF can generate enough money from the league to manage the annual commitments of the team and players, then they would not have to ask the higher authorities for grants,” he added.
However, Shahbaz wished best for Pakistan for the qualifiers saying he hoped the national team wins and qualifies for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.