FIH blamed for the ills of hockey in India and Pakistan

July 14th, 2008 - 7:15 pm ICT by IANS  

By Avishek Roy
Hyderabad, July 14 (IANS) Jahangir Ahmed Butt has seen it all in his lifetime. He had been part of the golden era of Pakistan hockey and then saw the slump and now he is passing on his wealth of experience to youngsters in the hope that they can bring the glorious days back. As a goalkeeper, Butt was part of Pakistan’s Olympics gold medal winning team in 1968 in Mexico and then the 1972 Munich Olympic squad which returned with silver. He also has a gold from the 1970 Asian Games and was part of Pakistan’s World Cup win in Barcelona in 1971.

“It is very heartbreaking to see India and Pakistan languishing in hockey. We never thought we would see this day when our standard is at such level,” says Butt, who is here as manager-cum-coach of the junior team playing here in the Asia Cup.

Part of the blame, Butt says lies with the International Hockey Federation (FIH) as some of the rule changes in recent times have favoured the European countries.

“We are still to come to terms with the new off-side rule and the obstruction rule. All the rule changes have pulled down Asian hockey and the European countries have prospered.”

Butt also says that FIH is not serious about seeing the two big hockey countries improve and get back to its glorious past.

“We do not have any say in FIH because they have votes of so many European countries. The voting system is such that it goes against the Asian nations. European countries, who do not even play hockey, are allowed to vote. And the Asian federations are not united so they cannot push their case.”

Butt shifts the rest of the blame to the shoddy adminstration in the two subcontinental countries.

“There is no long term planning. Then there is too much of political interference in matters of hockey. It is more difficult in Pakistan as there is no money in the game. The sponsors are hard to come and most of the players are from poor background so they found it very difficult to sustain themselves financially playing hockey.”

“To bring hockey back to the same old standard, we will have to focus on under-16 players. They will come up in the next four to five years. There should be infrastructure at school, coillege and club level. Earlier tere used to be so many tournaments at these levels but now there is hardly anything.”

Butt says he is pained to see India not playing in Beijing Olympics.

“This must be a big setback for India. I could not believe that India lost to England in the final of he qualifiers. It is sad to see India not there. Because India and Pakistan still generates so much of intrest in hockey worldwide.

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