KARACHI - Former Olympian Islahuddin Saddique has left for Los Angeles to attend the FIH Hockey Rules Board meeting. Before leaving for the meeting, Islah, the 1978 World Cup winning captain and a former manager of the national team, the longest serving Pakistani on FIH Hockey Rules Board, slammed those who had blamed changes made in hockey rules for lowering of Asian standards and said that it was just an excuse to escape from their teams own weaknesses particularly physical fitness. Talking to The Nation, he said all the rules that were amended or changed were aimed at improving the sport and were not aimed against any one country or a continent. The four day FIH Congress meeting started in Los Angeles on Saturday and the FIH Hockey Rules Board would meet in two days time. He said as long as Pakistan and India were the masters of the sport and had power in their legs and breath in their lungs, they dominated unchallenged and at that time the then hockey poor Europeans could only dream of winning the Olympics, World Cup and Champions Trophy. But the balance swung in favour of the Europeans when the sport had to adopt plastic surfaces which demanded super fitness and a bit of change of playing style and technique. The Europeans adapted to the changing scene whereas some Asians countries failed to realize the need of changing circumstances and started finding excuses. One of them was blaming changes made in rules, he said. Change in rules had in no way helped Europeans to dominate world scene it was their sheer physical fitness and adapting to the modern requirements of the sport which helped them, he added. The argument that the Asian hockey particularly of India and Pakistan had suffered due to large number of changes made in rules and went in favour of the Europeans had no justification because Pakistan as lately as 1994 won the World Cup on astro turf playing under changed rules. If once the hockey power houses of the world, India and Pakistan look inwardly and asses their own weaknesses than blaming rules, they would see the truth, which he said was that the two teams lack the fitness. Pakistan and India delayed adapting to the changes, European nations acted quickly to the changing conditions and rules. Instead of ruing they adopted every strategy and tactic to fit into the changing conditions. It was their emphasis on physical fitness that served them well and one could easily see that sea of change that Argentina, Spain and even Japan and Korea had gone through, he said. Islahuddin, who played top class hockey for Pakistan for 12 years from 1967 to 1979, conceded that some times the sub continental teams had lost despite playing well because luck deserted them at the wrong time but those defeats should have been taken as examples and the teams should have taken steps to improve performances. But it was not done. He said changes would continue in hockey rules board. Instead of blaming the changes and wishing for status quo, Pakistan should welcome changes which were bound to come and adapt to them at the quickest, he said. The PHF was just one forum where planning should be done to utilize the talent but their were other stake holders like clubs, universities and colleges, provincial hockey bodies and regional associations, departments, all should work in unison to give a helping hand to lift hockey. He hoped that the PHF would make honest effort to do some thing in opening up employment opportunities to the hockey players because it would only give further boost to the popularity of hockey which had shown decline in recent years. Once Pakistan start giving good performance at world level, the hockey would itself rise and Pakistan would once again be proud to be the hockey power, he said.