Hockey in Pakistan dates back to the middle of the 19th century. It was the British who introduced the game to the Indian public when their regiments were stationed there. Cricket was not so popular then, and hockey began to be considered as the national game of India. Of course, since there was no Pakistan before 1947, everyone who represented India in any tournament was an “Indian”. The game caught the people’s fancy to such an extent, that Indians won eight Olympic gold medals (six of them in consecutive events). This period (1928 to 1980) was therefore hailed as “The Golden Era of Sub continent Hockey”. The Pakistan Hockey Federation was formed in 1948, the hockey players were given the name of “Green Shirts”, and hockey became the national game of Pakistan too. And once things were put in place, there was no looking back for Pakistan hockey!
And to be sure, Pakistan has produced many “hockey” greats over the years! The list is too long to be covered in this small article, but some noteworthy names that deserve mention are-Hasan Sardar, Waseem Ahmed, Mohammed Saqlain, Shahid Ali Khan, Shahbaz Ahmed, Shahnaz Sheikh, and Sohail Abbas. Hasan Sardar, of course, was “the wizard of Pakistan hockey”! He has been instrumental in several international wins for the country.
As far as the world cup hockey tournament in Men’s hockey is concerned, Pakistan has won the most. Pakistan hockey team has bagged 4 world cups in all. Pakistan won the world cup in 1971, 1978, 1982 and 1994. Pakistan reached the final and won the silver medal twice, in 1975 and 1990 world cup. The 1994 world cup final match was the most thrilling one. In 1990 world cup final in Lahore, Pakistan, Netherlands defeated Pakistan. Pakistan paid back the Dutch in 1994 in the same currency. 1994 world cup final was won by Pakistan on Penalty shoot outs. It was a very thrilling match. Shahbaz Ahmed was Pakistan’s captain in that tournament. The victory was overwhelming for the nation as Pakistan won two major hockey tournaments in 1994, namely World cup and Champions trophy.
Yes, they have had their share of defeats too! But regardless of any hits or misses, the Pakistan hockey team is indeed a force to reckon with! Other teams better beware! They have to really toil to be one up on all of their accomplishments over the years! For now at least, it seems to be a well nigh impossible task!
Hockey is Pakistan’s national game and Pakistanis take pride in hockey. They have a glorious history of winning in hockey. At present the hockey team’s performance has not been really impressive for past few years, but it is improving. The nation needs to bring the young talent out and to ensure that the young guns get proper training. Hockey and its victories are a glorious heritage of Pakistan which the nation would love to carry forward. We hope to see the team with best world cup hockey records to be back full force very soon.