Any competition against India has the tendency to turn into a heated contest given the amount of public involvement, media coverage and obviously the spirit of our team members. Sports events against our arch-rival organized over the years have held the interest of all and sundry. From businessmen to laymen, every person has found his/her attention turned towards that heated match of the season which ultimately grows into a battle of egos.
Commonly, cricket is the one sport which has received inflated levels of attention in both the countries. Politicians have made use of cricket stadiums as democracy fields while celebrities have exploited them to further their fame. Bookers and sponsors endeavor to hit the maximum amount of asset during cricket season but it is the opinion and passion of the nationals of the two countries that matters the most.
In the silhouettes of cricket has lurked another sport for decades. Identified as hockey, it is formally known as our ‘national sport’. For years, hockey has lived the life of an orphan or at least an ignored child. It has failed to appeal to the likes of the public, failed to attract government notice, and has suffered at the hands of an almost dormant Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF). Sweat of hockey men has green-ed the coarse turfs of Pakistani hockey stadiums while the clash of their hockeys has lent the whole arena a rhythm of its own. Our hockey-men have never stopped at anything; be it insufficiency of funds or unavailability of proper kits or the steaming weather of Pakistan, they have rested at none. Since most of them come from a very humble background, we find that the very quality of hard work and perseverance characterize them.
Such was the condition of our national hockey team when they entered the hockey field (read: battlefield) a few days ago in Champions Trophy Hockey to play a match against their arch-rivals; India. Overcoming all odds, the Pakistani team scored through Muhammad Rizwan Junior in the 22nd minute, Shafqat Rasool in the 41st minute and Muhammad Ateeq in the 66th minute of the game to trounce India, for whom V Raghunath scored in the 7th minute and Rupinder Pal Singh scored in the 70th minute; both goals through penalty-corners.
Our expert player Shakeel Abbasi was named as man of the tournament and later commented: “For us, this is a gold medal because it’s been such a long time since we last won any. Winning against India makes it even more special, so for me and my team, this is a gold medal.”
As if the defeat wasn’t thwarting enough for India, another fact have lifted Pakistani heads. It is interesting to note that Pakistan won this medal in the event after eight years and before that all three of our championships in Champions Trophy Hockey have come at the cost of India’s defeat wherein Pakistan won its last medal (bronze) in the year 2004 at Lahore.
We wish our National Hockey team a very best of luck for all their sports’ endeavors in the future and we invite the attention of Pakistani Government towards the pitiable circumstances faced by our players during practice and otherwise.