Dutchman Siegfried Aikman is the head coach of the national hockey team since December 2021. During this period, Pakistan has participated in some tournaments with mixed results. Aikman's task has not been easy due to myriad problems. Eos sat down with the affable coach with roots in the Caribbean country of Suriname to get his candid opinions about where Pakistan hockey is headed. Excerpts from the interview...

Q. How did you come to coaching hockey?

A. I used to play for a club in the third tier of the Dutch League. Coaching fascinated me from the start. I was just 16 when I started training children at my club. Soon, I was doing coaching courses. I gained the top Dutch qualification. Next, it was the FIH courses. Here too, I attained the top qualification. I am a FIH High Performance Senior Coach as well as a FIH Academy Trainer and Educator. I have conducted FIH's high profile coaching courses. Some of them I carried out with Tayyab Ikram, who is now the FIH president. Many coaches of the top national teams have been my students.

I have been a full time coach since 2017 - four years with the men's national team of Japan and now Pakistan. I managed to guide the Japanese team to its greatest achievement, winning gold at the 2018 Asian Games.

Q. Then what made you take the assignment with the Pakistan team, which was languishing at the 18th place in world rankings?

A. I was born in 1959. When I was growing up, Pakistan and hockey were almost synonymous, and remained so for a long period. More than the successes, we were enamoured by their artistry. The decline in hockey here makes us sad. It is my earnest desire to see Pakistan reclaim its lost glory in hockey.

Pakistan Hockey has far more problems than just coming up with a winning combination. The national team's Dutch coach throws light on just a few of them in an exclusive interview ...

Q. So how has it been so far?

A. My first assignment was the Asian Champions Trophy in Bangladesh in December 2021. I joined the squad just two days before departure and didn't know anyone. Khawaja Junaid was the team's head coach. We shared ideas. Pakistan were unlucky in both the semi-final and third place game, losing to Korea 5-6 and India 3-4. My first impression was that the Green Shirts were good in offensive play but there were too many defensive lapses.

Then as head coach, my first assignment was the 2022 Asia Cup in Jakarta, Indonesia. Before that, there was a training tour to Europe but, due...

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