LAHORE: Former Olympian hockey player Tauqir Dar urged the government to take the required measures to cut sports equipment costs in order to encourage the country’s sports culture and make it accessible for athletes and sportsmen.
Talking to reporters at the Dar Hockey Academy, here at the National Hockey Stadium on Saturday, along with former test cricketer and former chief selector Mohammad Ilyas, Tauqir said it seems that the hockey game in Pakistan is being ruined by European nations under an expected policy.
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“It’s just a matter of Pakistan vs Europe. At first when European nations did not defeat Asian giant Pakistan on grass surfaces for many years, the introduction of Astroturf mastered their minds. “But even then, Pakistan managed to win the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and then the 1994 World Cup and Champions Trophy,” Tauqir recalled.
After that the wooden hockey stick was replaced with a plastic one in order to cause more problems for Pakistan, and changes were also made to other equipment, particularly in the goalkeeper’s kit, Tauqir observed. “The high costs of hockey sports equipment are still the greatest challenge in the way of promoting the game, while the country has a decent number of Astroturf fields.
Currently, it costs around Rs 12,000 for a decent hockey stick and a nice pair of joggers, while the cost of the goalkeeper’s kit is around Rs 300,000. But it’s simply not possible to buy such costly appliances for middle or lower-middle-class households,’ he argued.
Tauqir went on to add that while in the past, hockey sticks, balls, and other equipment were given to the budding players by departments and educational institutions, the current situation is very disappointing as no such assistance comes from the institutions anymore.
Tauqir, who has been running the Dar Hockey Academy from his own produced capital for the last 13 years, said that the culture of sports could not evolve in the country without reducing the prices of sports products.
Tauqir said in 2005 that a league was held in Karachi by the then secretary of the PHF Brig. (rtd.) Mussaratullah and it was a positive move, reflecting on the PHF’s current proposal to organise a hockey league. Yet it didn’t survive.
“If the PHF has the will and vision for it then it will find ways to successfully organise the league,” Tauqir said. The league is the strongest short-cut that will provide hockey players with jobs and build financial resources for them.’
He proposed that the PHF hold league matches to encourage the game and make it popular in small towns such as Gojra, Gujranwala, Khanewal, and others.
Tauqir, son of the great Olympian Munir Dar, said the country was blessed with a lot of hockey talent, but there was a need to put a perfect structure in place to groom the talent to the first, qualified, international level.
Ilyas also added that the hockey game was very popular at their young age, and Pakistan won so many titles, including the Olympics, World Cups and Asian Games.
“It was our desire to be a hockeys player, even though we were cricketers, as their names were more popular because Pakistan was at the top of world hockey,” he said.
There were many reasons for the decline of hockey, Ilyas said, and one of them was that the government was not patronising the game. He said that due to financial concerns, many departmental hockey teams and clubs had closed down. I can only expect the government and agencies to come out and revive hockey with greater responsibilities,” he said.”
He praised the Tauqir Dar Hockey Academy’s role in supplying the Pakistan team with a reasonable number of players.