LAHORE - Former hockey team captain and Olympian M Usman has said that future of Pakistan hockey is bright but for this, there is a dire need to groom young talent.

In an interview with The Nation, Usman said: “There is no dearth of talent in the country, but we direly need to groom young and promising talent, to prepare them mentally and physically and above all, provide them international standard facilities and maximum international exposure which will help them win laurels for the country and help regain its lost hockey glory.”

Usman, also ex-international hockey coach, said: “Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) should provide international level training and facilities to the players. Our players are not physically as fit as the other hockey playing nations so they need training centers where they may prepare well for the mega events.”

To a query regarding revival of academy system, which provided the country a good of number talented players, the ex-Olympian replied: “The vision of academy system was really laudable as it helped a great deal in producing quality players. There is a dire need to revive this system but the main thing is that we can’t get desired results until the selection will be merit, the coaches will be qualified and there will be proper check and balance on the entire process.”

When asked about the performance of current PHF setup, he stated: “Truly speaking, they are not successful in achieving their goals. Lack of funds and less interest of government towards the national game were the main reasons behind its decline. I believe when the government starts treating hockey like cricket, it will start progressing and the green shirts will start getting best results. The current PHF setup needs time for getting settled and I hope they will achieve their goals when they will be well cooperated by the government and corporate sector.”

Usman said without improvement of domestic hockey, it was not possible to revive the game in the country. “The element of competitiveness is missing in our domestic events. There was a time, when the players had passion for the game and they used to train very hard, but unfortunately, the current players have not such an enthusiasm in them. They don’t want to work hard and prefer shortcuts. It is very clear that there is no shortcut to success as the only way to success is hard and smart work. They must strive hard to reach at the highest level.”

He said prime duty of the PHF was to provide platform to the players and it were them who had important role of playing and performing in the field, so until they will not perform exceptionally, we can’t think about regaining the lost hockey glory. Though there is a coaching factor yet what they can do unless they have best stuff.”

Commenting on the recent performances of national senior and junior teams in the Asian Games and Sultan of Johor Cup, pride of performance Usman said: “The senior team performance was same as it was in the last edition. Only luck made the difference. There could be difference if they had a few goals lead before the final whistle. As far as junior team’s performance is concerned, we can say they tried their best to score wins but overall, they could have produced better results. It was their first international experience which would prove beneficial for them in the times to come but they must work hard as they have ability to produce better results. The PHF must groom them as they are the future stars.”

 “It is the prime duty of government to support the national game and help the PHF for hockey revival in the country. But it is also the main responsibility of the players to prove their potentials through some superb and exceptional performances which will certainly give a thought to government come forward for the assistance of national star," Usman concluded.