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Hockey needs resumption of bilateral series between India and Pak for its survival: Hassan Sardar

Hockey needs  resumption of bilateral series between India and Pak for its survival: Hassan Sardar

By Harpal Singh Bedi

Jakarta, Aug 20 (UNI) Olympian and former Pakistan Captain Hassan Sardar on Monday strongly pitched for a resumption of hockey ties with India saying the bilateral series is essential for the survival of the sport in the sub-continent.

“We may not be the hockey powerhouse but to bring back the crowd to watch the game it is must to revive the old rivalry. Let the people start coming to the stadium to watch the two former World Champions play” he told this correspondent.

Hassan Sardar, considered to be one of the best forwards of his time said “Hockey has gone though a very rough patch in the sub-continent. The sport has conceded a large space to cricket but now I think we are coming back”

“Let us face it, the youth in the subcontinent had deserted the game because of various reasons. Hockey was not very lucrative for them as cricket. Lack of sponsorship, leadership, paucity of grounds, failure to harness talent at the grassroots level, were(and are) some of the reasons for the decline of the sports” he said.

He was candid enough to admit that people still keep on talking of old players like Ajit Pal Singh, Surjit Singh, Ashok Kumar, Islahuddin Siddiqi, Shahnaz Sheikh, Akhtar Rasool, Samiullah, because “new heroes are not emerging”.

“Every sports needs new stars, hockey in our two countries have not been able to produce that level of players in recent times”.

Hassan Sardar, who was the highest goal scorer in the 1982 Asian Games and 1984 Olympics (both won by Pakistan) however, was very optimistic about the future of Hockey in India and Pakistan.

“The game has become much more easier. In our time only 20 to 25 countries used to play the game, now the number has gone up to nearly 60 countries” he said.

“India twice finished runners up in the Champions Trophy. We(Pakistan) drew all our matches in Commonwealth Games. At champions trophy We drew with Belgium, beat the world champions there.”

“We are improving. It is tough but it is happening” he said adding “now is the top start playing with each other. Just for the sake of the game.”

He admitted that the bilateral series may not be helpful in improving the standard of the game between the two countries, but it will attract crowd. That is the first step to regain the lost space”.

Hassan Sardar opined, “We have risen from the ashes. We could not go down any further. We are climbing back slowly but surely”.

While welcoming the changes in the rules of the game, he however, did not appreciate game being divided into four quarter (of 15 minutes each). “See I am basically a player of old school, I still like the format of two halves of 35 minutes each. The mercurial forward talked about his time and Indian players, saying he has fond memories of playing with Ajitpal Singh and late Surjit Singh.

About the current Indian player, he singled out Sardar Singh for a special praise “ When I see Sardar Singh playing, I am reminded of Ajit pal and Akhtar Rassol. Sardar is at mid fielder and a great feeder of ball at present. I will describe him as complete hockey player of old school.”

Hassan Sardar, who played for his country from 1978 to 88, took over as manager of the Pakistan team early this year hoped that Imran Khan as a prime minister will help improve sports in the country.

“He (Imran Khan) may be a good news for the beleaguered sporting nation of Pakistan. He may be a blessing in disguise for the sports persons.”

Hassan Sardar said he was keenly looking forward to visiting India for the Hockey World Hockey.”I have very fond memories of India , I will like to refresh those moments once again.”


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