Hasan Sardar - We believe in enduring success
Written by English NewsPaper/Dawn/Others   

Though  our junior hockey team won two titles last month, and we expect the same kind of performance from our senior side, our main target is to formulate a strong outfit for future.

A couple of good performances and victories  are not enough, we are trying to make our base; strong and effective under a long-term planning, this was stated by Pakistanis chief Selector Hassan Sardar while talking to "The News on Sunday'.

Remember, Pakistan Junior hockey team won a five-nation hockey tournament in Cairo, Egypt defeating the hosts 5-3 in penalty shoot-out in the final in the last week of March 2000. It was Pakistan's second back-to-back junior hockey title in just 11 days. Earlier, In the mid of March Pakistan Juniors also scooped a four nation   tournament   when   they defeated India in the final match by 3-2 at Johor Bahru, Malaysia. Interestingly, Pakistan won both the finals in extra-time. Hassan, who was popular in th hockey world for his classic bod dodging, said two title victories are definitely a good sign for Pakistan team to be in excellent form before the upcoming Junior World Cup to be played in two months time. "Afte such a superb performance, th Pakistan boys are in great shape both physically and mentally just ahead of grand Junior World Cup and we are quite hopeful that our youngsters will win the elite World Cup event as well," Hassan hoped.

Answering a query, Hassan, who arguably was the best centre forward Pakistan has ever produced, said, "Hockey is in our blood, and it is wrong if somebody says that there is no hockey potential in Pakistan, There is still great hockey talent in Pakistan, We just,need to locate and then groom the potential youngsters properly," he elaborated.

"During the recent National Hockey Championship, we found some outstanding boys which could, prove to be an asset for the future of national hockey."
Hassan Sardar, who started his international career in the early 1980s, while highlighting the role of foreign trainer, said, "PHF has hired' the foreign trainer just to improve the fitness level of Pakistan hockey teams both junior and senior. In modern day hockey, only the teams with fewer number of fitness problems could reach the victory podium. So we cannot ignore the role of a qauality trainer," he explained.


When his attention was drawn towards Pakistan's coaching problem, Hasan said that present PHP administration has introduced the concept of paid coaches. "In past years, Pakistan used to pay foreign coaches while locals were appointed on honorary basis. But now local coaches are also being paid and thiS is the right way to appoint somebody," he added. "Logically if somebody is being paid he will react and perform accordingly and show more responsibility."
He said that Pakistan head coach Shahid All Khan was a qualified coach and that's why PHF selected him to replace Ayaz Mehmood, who could not join PHF due to his commitments with PIA,
"Sultan Azlan Shah Cup could be called his first test as professional coach.- Shahid has been in coaching for the last couple of years. Recently he was performing as an assistant to a German coach in Malaysia for the last two years,"

To a point, he said since PHF management consists of former Olympians so we have evolved such a system in which anyone can give an advice to our coach and in any important issue.

Hassan, who was a part of Pakistan's last Olympic gold medat winning team at Los Angeles in 1984, while discussing reasons of Pakistan's downfall in hockey, said that lack of back-up pool was One of the major factors behind Pakistan's substandard performance during the last 15 year.

"It was period Of early 1980s when star-studded Pakistan triumphed in 1983 World Cup and then 1984 Olympics but unfortunately then PHF did not prepare proper back-up for retiring stars such as Akhtar Rasool, Manzoor ul Hasan, Samlullah, KaleemuHah, Manzoor Junior, Hanif Khan and myself etc."

"Even many of the stars were forced to announce retirement prematurely," he blamed. "Akhtar Rasool retired after 1982 World Cut victory though he could have been played the Los Angeles Olympics easily. Similarly, the stars like Kaleemullah, Manzoor Junior, Hanif Khan and I were fit enough to represent Pakistan till the 1992 Olympics."
"In short, some ten top class hockey players were shown the door in a period of Just five years from 1982-87 but without finding their appropriate replacements. Had those giants of the game not been forced to leave the top level hockey prematurely, the circumstances of the present Pakistan hockey could have been different, he added. "In this regard I want to mention Brig Atif's role. No doubt he was instrumental in Pakistan's victories in the '80s but at the same time he did not make planning and that's why Pakistan hockey could not stabilize itself even after such a long period."

"India also committed the same mistake when they won the World Cup in 1975 but Immediately after winning the title, their management forced seven players to quit and next year they finished poor 7th in Olympic Games," he Informed. Hassan, who was appointed chief selector in October 2008, while recounting the circumstances of his retirement said, "I was forced to quit hockey in 1987 at the age of 29. At that time I could have represented my country for another 3 to 4 years comfortably,"

bwd  Set 1/2  fwd

One can gauge me and other players (KaJeemullah & Hanif Khan etc) fitness and performance from the fact that we won the National Hockey Championship in 1992. In 1986, I was dropped and resultantly Pakistan finished 11th In World Cup the same year. Next year I was recalled as captain and we managed to make it to Azlan Shah Cup final and lost the decisive game In extra time against Germany, he continued.

Hassan said every player has to say good-bye to game one day but it does not look appropriate to retire half dozen  players in one or two years.

We should learn a lesson from past mistakes. He said after retirement he was offered a selector's role in 2001 which he accepted. "In those 14 years I was also offered roles of national, coach and, manager but I did not agree because it was a matter of total commitment and at that time I was focusing whole with Customs."    

To another question, the soft-spoken Hassan said, Pakistan Hockey federation is performing really well for the betterment of hockey in the country. "It is for the first time in Pakistan history that National Hockey Academies have been introduced in the country. And it is a fact that the said academies are need of the hour."

When asked to predict about the future of hockey which is also a Pakistan's national sport, Hassan was of the view that our beginning is very heartening but the fact is that Pakistan hockey is passing through a rebuilding process. "As we are all doing hectic efforts and that too in the right direction now we can say that Pakistan regain its lost glory in hockey to the next four to five years.

To a question regarding Pakistan's 8th place in world hockey, Hasan said that during the last 16 years Pakistan could not get a respectable place in world hockey due to various reasons."Now it is our senior team's turn to raise their level of game and win titles. They must take Inspiration from the junior team." 

"It is a matter of just a matter of good tournaments and after that Pakistan hockey team can improve their international ranking," he added.

The writer is a The News, Lahore
By Ghallb Mehmood Bajwa 96