Junior Hockey World Cup: Pakistan out to change their fortunes

The Pakistan junior hockey team poses on arrival at the Bhubaneswar airport. (PC: Hockey India)
The Pakistan junior hockey team poses on arrival at the Bhubaneswar airport. (PC: Hockey India)

Pakistan's junior hockey team is keen to get the sport back to glory with a good performance at the FIH Men's Junior World Cup in Bhubaneswar. Hockey in Pakistan, once a powerhouse, has been on a steady decline due to a number of factors, including the quality of performance.

Three-time former Olympic champions Pakistan have seen a slump in the last few years, with the senior hockey team failing to qualify for the Olympics in the 2016 and 2021 editions.

Pakistan junior hockey team skipper Abdul Rana, in a virtual interaction, said the team is keen to revive its fortunes and put up a good showing.

"The Pakistan junior team is confident of putting up a good show," he said. "All of you will see a change in Pakistan hockey. The team is playing as a unit and there is a family atmosphere and I am sure Pakistan will surprise the entire world with its hockey."

Read: Hockey Junior World Cup: Manpreet Singh shares captaincy tips with Vivek Prasad

The skipper said a lot of work has gone on behind the scenes to lift the state of the sport in Pakistan.

"Our government and senior officials in our federation are putting in a lot of sincere effort," he said. "I am certain that in the next year or two one can start seeing Pakistan getting better."

Pakistan junior hockey team head coach Danish Kaleem echoed the captain's thoughts on uplifting the sport and added that the lack of jobs was also contributing to the decline of hockey in the country.

"There could be a lot of reasons on why there has been a decline in Pakistan hockey but I can say this much that the preparation started for both the senior and junior teams," he said.
"The top officials are professional people, who are preparing the team so that in the next year to three years our team can start showing better results," he added. "There are lesser job opportunities in departments which are also preventing young players from taking up the sport and it is also a factor why hockey went down."

Kaleem is eyeing a superlative performance from the Pakistan junior hockey team at the Junior World Cup, which would go a long way in giving hope to a struggling nation that was once a powerhouse.

"Pakistan hockey can go much higher from here and there will be live matches and people back home, including juniors, will be watching the players," he explained. "I hope we can produce a good performance and give hope. If this team does well and gives good results, it will definitely help our hockey, which is slightly down now."

Pakistan will begin their campaign with a Pool D league match against Germany on November 24.

Also read: FIH Hockey Junior World Cup 2021: Teams, pools and match details

Edited by Sudeshna Banerjee
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