ISLAMABAD, Jul 24 (APP):Newly-appointed chief selector of Pakistan hockey team Olympian Manzoor Hussain Junior said on Wednesday that he would launch a talent hunt programme to look out for the youngsters, who could be groomed to make a strong national outfit.
“I’ve a plan to start holding open trials in different cities of the country by the end of September or early October to spot hockey enthusiasts from 16 years old to 18 years old, who can be trained for World Cup 2022 and 2024 Olympics,” he told APP.
Manzoor, who on Tuesday was selected Chairman of the Selection Committee with Khalid Hameed, Waseem Feroze and Ayaz Ahmad as its members, said he along with his team would visit every nook and corner of the country to hold the trials and find out promising players. “Sitting in drawing rooms and making teams on whatsapp won’t help. We need to set a long-term plan and try to unearth the hidden talent at an early age and for that we’ll have to go to the field.”
The 60-year-old, who captained Pakistan team that won Gold at the 1984 Olympics said: “From the talent pool of 18 years old youngsters we’ll prepare a strong side for the World Cup 2022, while from that of 16 years age group we’ll develop a team that can represent the country in 2024 Olympics.”
He said that he believed he would succeed in his mission and prepare a strong outfit that would help the country regain its lost status in the game. “This is the same country which has been ruling the world of hockey. If it produced several hockey greats in the past I don’t see any reason it can’t do that again in the future too,” added Manzoor, who helped Pakistan win 1982 World Cup final against Germany by scoring a historic goal while dodging six opponent defenders.
Manzoor said he would not compromise on merit and would only focus on the real talent. “It is the time we focus on our future. I believe we’ve really talented youth but they are not spotted at the early age. Now, we have to concentrate at the grassroots level to find them out.”
He said the he had talked to the management of Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) and it was also in favour of the talent hunt programme. “I’ll request the PHF to arrange funds for proper grooming of the selected players. Provision of proper training to them will be essential as without that we’ll not be able to lay strong foundations of our hockey.”
“I believe that our 16 years old hockey enthusiasts should get same sort of training, which we impart to our players at the senior level. This will make them tough and their fitness level will become of higher level,” he added.
Manzoor said that he had identical views with PHF to raise the standard of national game and hence was expecting it would provide all necessary support to materialize his plans.