Pakistan needs to take all-out measures to improve hockey: Shahnaz Sheikh

ISLAMABAD (APP): Star Olympian Shahnaz Sheikh believes with rapid changes happening in the international hockey, Pakistan needs to take all-out measures to improve the national game.
There were times when Pakistan was the most successful team in World Cups, Olympics and Champions Trophy with winning four World Cups in 1971, 1978, 1982 and 1994. Pakistan also has three gold medals in Olympic Games field hockey tournaments in Rome 1960, Mexico City 1968 and Los Angeles 1984.
Then the downfall began and an always-winning team that played all World Cup editions, could not qualify for 2014 and 2023 mega events.
Sheikh pleads to blend young players with experienced hands for forming a squad that owns the potential to beat any team in the world.
“Players need to improve their movements and points marking in the D area. They should avoid counterattacks and improve the conversion of penalty corners. If we get three to four penalty corners at least two must be utilized,” Shahnaz told APP.
“We need to strongly work on all these things if we want to improve our game. Our players must play with unity and avoid individual point scoring in any game,” he commented.
At present, the Pakistan national hockey team holds the 16th spot in International Hockey Federation (FIH) rankings, further suggesting measures for improvement, he said, there were around 28 education Boards in the country with hundreds of schools affiliated with each board.
“Therefore, if each government school is allowed to participate in tournaments, the total number of participating teams would be in hundreds. This practice would be a sort of talent hunt bringing new players to the national squad.” He also suggested designated hockey fields to promote the game as he recalled, “in our times plentiful of national and district tournaments were held annually for improvement of players mental and physical strength.””Then there were different departments, offering jobs to players. But, rapid changes in the hockey setup affected the game badly,” he said.