Pakistan proposes a bilateral hockey series with India
"We have sent a memorandum to HI for a bilateral series. Pakistan has approved it," said Pakistan coach Tahir Zaman.
Mumbai: Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has recently sent a proposal to revive the bilateral series against India and are now awaiting a reply from Hockey India (HI), according to the country's hockey coach Tahir Zaman.
"We have sent a memorandum to Hockey India for a bilateral series. Pakistan has approved it. Being the national coach of Pakistan Hockey team, I can mention this. We are waiting to get a letter of understanding from Hockey India," the former Pakistan captain told reporters here on Thursday.
"Soon, we want not only the senior team, but the junior, under-14, under-16 even state-level teams; we are thinking of playing on that level. The interaction should happen on a regular basis," said Zaman who will be a expert commentator in Hindi for Star Sports when it telecasts the Hockey India League (HIL) starting on January 25.
"I am very much hopeful. Soon we will see Pakistan-India hockey games, some matches in Pakistan and some matches in India, on every level," he said. "We are very serious about it and Hockey India is also very serious about it. This [bilateral series] can be an event that can increase the number of hockey players and viewers. We have written about the suitable dates, so that we can discuss.
"There are going to be many events in India. So whichever date is suitable for them, we will try to play accordingly," he added.
The 1992 bronze medal-winning Pakistan Olympic team member said a bilateral series between India and Pakistan would help both the nations as they would learn to play under pressure, which would hold them in good stead for their international matches.
"When Pakistan and India play, it is very special for both the countries. In the event, when there is so much interest from the public, it ultimately creates pressure on players.
"When players play under pressure, they do improve psychologically. When we play more matches and the players learn to play under pressure, then at the international level their hockey skills will be polished further," the 44-year-old former player said.
"Present-day hockey is about performing under pressure. When Pakistan and India start playing on a regular basis, the players get used to playing in front of big crowds, then their performance at the international level would also be better and it would be good for both the teams," Zaman said.
Asked if artificial turf for hockey is to be blamed for the decline of both the countries that once ruled the game, the former Pakistan player said it wasn't the case.
"I wouldn't blame astro-turf. Even after astro-turf was introduced, both India and Pakistan have won matches. In the 1980 Olympics, India won and in the 1984 Olympics Pakistan won.
"But unfortunately with the advancement of the game and new rules, the coaching standards did not improve and that is why we have not been that successful in producing quality players like we did 30-40 years ago," he said.
"We can provide quality players again but I don't think it is possible to expect that it will change overnight. But I am confident India and Pakistan can return to the same position, which they enjoyed earlier," he added.
Zaman is a little disappointed with the absence of Pakistan players in Hockey India League (HIL) starting in two days' time.
"I am a little disappointed because of this. I feel this event could have been more exciting for spectators and Pakistan public would have been involved if their players were playing. We could have seen skill versus European Hockey that is hit and run... I hope the next time Pakistan players also play in HIL," he said.