There is no denying that Pakistan’s national sport has struggled in recent times but who do you blame for this steady decline? The management? The players? Or, the government? Pakistan hockey’s slump might seem dramatic, but it is anything but sudden. It has been a painful decline for the most successful team in the history of hockey, which began when Pakistan not only failed to win the 1986 World Cup in England but finished 11th in a 12-team event. A team, which had won 3 out of 5 previous attempts suddenly finishing at the bottom was perhaps the biggest shock in the world of sports at that time. In the following event, Pakistan again failed to lift the trophy which was organized in their backyard.
This was perhaps the most crucial time because two years after the 1990 Hockey World Cup, Pakistan found another hero in Imran Khan who marched on to make history as he lifted the Cricket World Cup, arguably one of the biggest sporting achievements of Pakistan history. This shift was especially significant because after 1992 – despite Pakistan again winning the hockey World Cup in 1994 – the media attention that once belonged to hockey had now diverted to cricket in Pakistan National Sport? National Joke! This is not the first time sports in Pakistan is suffering at the hands of the government due to lack of funds. The most glaring and recent example is the conditions in which athletes were preparing for Sindh Games 2018. It was one of the few issues to have been brought to light by the media, ex-athletes and other prominent figures in the sports.
The budget of Sindh games was somewhere around Rs. 40.6 million. However, athletes were training in life-threatening conditions. In response, the Sindh government took notice and improved the facilities for all the participants. This points towards a severe problem: corruption, an issue which was largely neglected by the governments. However, with Imran Khan coming into power, a former sportsman and a patriot, one can hope that he can pay heed to the matter at hand. He should however, realize that there are many other sports other than cricket that need his attention – if not, then Pakistan’s national sports will be nothing more than a national joke and a neglected sport