In the Spirit of Sport

The international Sports boycott of Pakistan has been having a high impact on the country. Several years ago the then Pakistan Hockey coach advised this writer that the sport was in crisis.

With no nation prepared to go and play in Pakistan, the sport had no revenue coming in. When competing in major international tournaments, unlike other sports there is not huge price money at stake. Yet Pakistan has to play in key tournaments to stay competitive and to maintain its World Ranking in order to be invited and invoked in the major events. At that time the sport was having to use funds from junior development to fund the senior side. A move that was bound to be crippling in the long term.

It was heart warming to see Hockey India offer their neighbours and biggest rivals some support this week after  reports emerged from across the border that their national camp at Rawalpindi for the World League Round 3 in Belgium – an Olympic qualification tournament – had to be suspended due to lack of funds.

“We cannot imagine the Olympics without India and Pakistan in hockey. In case you are unable to raise resources for training, we are willing to approach the government of India or our sponsors and well-wishers to bail out the PHF,” is an extract of an email from HI secretary-general Mushtaque Ahmed to his PHF counterpart Rana Mujahid published in the Times of India.

Hockey India has put aside the unsavoury celebrations by Pakistan players at the 2014 Champions Trophy in Bhubaneswar after they beat India, and led to the suspension of bilateral ties. HI president Narinder Batra told the Times of India that “At all times, the Union government will be involved as we need their approval to transfer the funds to Pakistan.”

World Hockey needs Pakistan and India, and India probably more than anyone else needs Pakistan. It is good to see that the hand of friendship that comes n sport has been offered to help an ailing rival.

Hopefully to continue in this vein Hockey India will allow in 2016 Pakistan players to be a part of the Hockey India League. It would enrich the competition and would be another step in the right direction in terms of showing that sport can do things that Politicians can’t.

Congratulations Hockey India, and hopefully Pakistan accepts your generous offer.

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In the Spirit of Sport

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