Forever in the shadow of their illustrious men’s team Pakistan women hockey team finally have made their presence felt by qualifying for the Asian Hockey Federation Cup semi-finals in Singapore.
At this juncture of Pakistan’s sporting history the country is struggling to produce quality athletes in any sport barring cricket hence the achievement by the women’s team can not be underestimated.
Four years ago, at the qualification in Singapore, the team performed woefully and were subjected to some humiliating defeats by their opponents. Teams like the hosts Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand and Chinese Taipei scored goal after goal against the green shirts who largely looked out of depth for even a continental event. But gradually the green shirts have improved and are now a force at the Asian level as reflected by their superb performance in the tournament taking place in Bangkok, Thailand. In their decisive pool match against the high flying Singapore outfit, the national team displayed great grit and skill to hold their opponents to a 1-1 draw which enabled their progression in the last four stage of the championship where they succumbed to a 5-1 defeat at the hands of Thailand.
The progress to the last four stage is surely a shot in the arm for the sport. The Pakistan Hockey Federation must ensure that the momentum isn’t lost and the national team continues to make progress and expand its skill level to an extent where they can compete with the world hockey powers. The onus is on the administrators that run the sport in the country; women hockey players must be given the recognition that the national women cricket team has earned in recent years.
Pakistan women cricketers have been awarded central contracts by the Pakistan Cricket Board and the leading players are solely focused on the sport which has earned them a professional career and global recognition. Women sport needs patronage and parents must also encourage participation of their girl child in healthy sporting activities.