Pakistan hockey needs dedicated administrators: Samiullah.

Gold remained synonymous with Pakistan hockey for many years while the game was regarded as a symbol of national pride in international sport. With the passage of time, however, signs of gradual decline emerged which later became alarming and then too tough to control. Today, Pakistan - the former four-time world champions - is not even featuring in the FIH World Cup currently taking place in India, and are languishing at a wretched 17th position in the world rankings.

Pakistan's global domination in the game started with the 1960 Rome Olympics and continued throughout the 1970s and mid-1980s before the rot set in.

The Bahawalpur-born Samiullah Khan, one of the finest wingers of his era, represented Pakistan from around mid-1970s till 1982 when the greenshirts were the giants of the game. He reckons there are many reasons for the perpetual fall in hockey.

'First and foremost, the present administration [Pakistan Hockey Federation] is not doing its work properly for improving the national game. Whereas in the past, there were very dedicated administrators at the top level like Air Marshal Nur Khan, Lt Gen K.M. Azhar and Air Chief Marshal Farooq Feroze Khan [all PHF presidents], plus Brig Manzoor Atif, Brig Abdul Hamid Hameedi and Col Mudassir Asghar [secretaries] who all proved themselves very productive contributors in our hockey,' Olympian Samiullah, who is now based in Karachi, said in an exclusive interview with Dawn.

'Similarly, the hockey administrators at the lower level were equally devoted,' the 71-year-old, who has two back-to-back World Cup titles (1987 and 1982) to his credit, added. 'Moreover, the governments used to take interest in promoting the game.

'Second is the infrastructure which during the 1970s and 80s was very sound. Hockey players from different parts of the country were doing jobs in as many as 17 departments including Wapda, PIA, Customs, Army, Police, KPT and several banks which kept several sports in Pakistan particularly hockey, cricket and squash on solid footing.'

Gradually, Samiullah regretted, the system got derailed resulting in decline which continues to this day. Privatisation of several organisations, particularly banks, led to the closure of many sports divisions.

'Contrarily, top hockey-playing countries like Australia, Holland, Germany during the past 40 years, and later Belgium [current world champions, second in FIH rankings] kept working on lifting their hockey which helped them succeed in...

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