Hockey in Pakistan

Origins of hockey are said to be traced as back as the old Egyptians, however the modern day hockey takes it s roots from Britain. It first entered as a Olympic event in 1908, but for most of its history the game remained close to hearts of those living in the Indian subcontinent, like football in Brazil. In 1928 Olympic Games at Amsterdam India entered for the first time and reached the final where they defeated Holland 3-0. For 30 consecutive matches (between 1928-56) India remained the unbeaten Olympic champion of Hockey. However, upon creation of Pakistan in 1947, Indian dominance in hockey was threatened. And ultimately the gold was flinched. This site describes.

The Early Days

After the marvels in Squash and Cricket, Hockey was the third game in which Pakistan entered the world scene. Pakistan entered London Olympics in 1948 but lost in semi-finals. The same fate was met in 1952 Helsinki Olympics. However, Pakistani squad knew their objective was the finals and practised hard which brought them eye ball to eye ball with the Indians in the final of the 1956 Olympic Hockey Tournament in Melbourne (Australia).
Although Pakistan didn't win gold but the the silver medal created ripples for the Indians as their supremacy was now under threat. Henceforth, Pakistan never looked back and went from strength to strength, setting up new records and milestones en route to the top. For next three decades Pakistan was at the top, beginning from Rome in 1960.

The Rome Olympics - 1960

September 9, 1960 was the day for which Pakistan had been longing for. Pakistan met the Indian hockey team, the world champion for 32 years, in the finals at Rome Olympics. Both sides gave each other a rough time. Indians were not giving in and Pakistanis were not leaving without gold. Finally left-in Naseer Bunda scored the only goal of the match and brought first ever gold to Pakistan and an acclaim of international level.

This was just the beginning and the period between 1960 and 1986 being the golden era of Pakistan hockey. Thrice during this period Pakistan won the Olympic and World Cup titles. The Asian Games title was won six times and the Champions Trophy in the first two years of its inauguration. Twice Pakistan held three of the world's most prestigious titles at the same time - the Asian, Olympic and World Cup crowns. No other hockey playing country has achieved this feat in the history of the game so far.

The Decline of Hockey

Having reached the zenith like the Indians, the unconquered were finally tamed. In 1986. Pakistan lost the Asian Games and the World Cup titles. South Korea snatched the Asian games title from Pakistan 2-1, a feather in the cap since 1970. Interestingly Pakistan had beat South Korea by ten goals in the ninth Asiad at Delhi four years ago. Same year Pakistan lost the World Cup (England became the new World Champion), whereas Pakistan finished second from the bottom, India being the last. It was the irony of fate that the two top teams from Asia which used to fight for the two top positions in international tournaments had to play off for the last two places in the 1986 World Cup.


Sami Ullah
The Flying Horse

Sohail Abbas
Sohail Abbas
The highest goal scoring player in the world

Feroz Khan
Feroz Khan

Celebrating his 100th birthday in Lahore in August 2004 is the oldest living Olympic gold medalist in the world (Feroz was part of the 1928 Indian hockey team). Alas soon thereafter we lost Feroze Khan. He died at the age of 101 on Apr 20, 2005

Winners of President's Pride of  Performance Awards

Struggling to Survive

Pakistan's two attempts to regain Olympic glory failed during the period under review. Pakistan could only win a bronze at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics but failed to improve on that performance at Atlanta four years later. Pakistan recently clinched a silver in the Commonwealth Games held in Australia in March 2006.
However, all is not lost. Pakistan won the semi final of seventh World Cup tournament in Lahore (1990) but lost to Holland in the final. Pakistan avenged that defeat by beating Holland in the final of the eighth World Cup in Sydney in 1994. Thus Pakistan won the World Cup for the fourth time since its inception in 1971. No country has had the honour of holding this title as many time as Pakistan has had.

The Trend Setters

Talking of converting penalty strokes into sure goals, name of Tanvir Dar instantly comes to mind. But that doesnt mean the history stopped in its tracks. Recently Pakistan's Sohail Abbas became the new holder of World Record for most goals by an individual in international field hockey. He breaks 22-year-old record of legendary Dutch Paul Litjens when he struck his 268th goal at Amritsar’s Guru Nanak Dev University Hockey Stadium on 8 October 2004.

Players that Left their Imprints

This site would be incomplete if mention of some of the great players that brought glory to Pakistan is not made in this site. Here are some:
  • Goal Keeper: Salim Sherwani represented Pakistan for a decade (1969-79). He was the first 'technically brilliant' goal keeper produced by Pakistan.
  • Right Full-back: Tanvir Dar (1965-73) who was Pakistan's greatest penalty corner expert before Sohail Abbas of today.
  • Left Full-back: Pakistan's all time great left full back could be none other than the late Munawwar-uz0Zaman (1971-80).
  • Right Half: Saeed Anwer (1964-72) who had excellent ball control and dribbling ability to assume the role of attacker himself.
  • Center Half: Akhtar Rasul (1972-82), who touched heights of greatness only in the latter half of his career and Anwaar Ahmad (1956-65), who was a class act throughout his illustrious international career.
  • Left Half: Habib Ali Kiddie (1950-64), who was a true left half in the traditional South Asian mould and seldom indulged in acts not in conformity with his prime job of defence.
  • Right Out: Three great names (1) Islahuddin (1969-78) had lighting speed, the ability to cross and a good scorer during the crucial stages of matches (2) Kalimullah (19-86) was speedy and had a good thrust. He the rare ability - 'cut in' from the gallery (3) Khalid Mahmood (1963-73) known for his beautiful dodges and precise and measured crosses.
  • Right In: Two great names: (1) Brig. Abdul Hamedd Hameedi (1948-64), who played four Olympics known for his exceptional tactical appreciation (vital for Asian style of hockey where the position is considered a schemer in the forward line). He was Pakistan's all time top scorer in the Olympics. (2) Manzoor Hussain Junior (1975-84) had exceptional stick work and ball distribution and a good scorer
  • Center Forward: Hasan Sardar (1979-87) used to weave patterns around the defence in a manner simply out of this world. He won the Player of the Tournament award in 1982 World Cup, 1984 Olympics, 1982 Asia Cup and 1982 Asian Games with Pakistan winning all these four big title tournaments. He aslo scored 150 goals in international matches.
  • Left In: Two great names: (1) Shahnaz Sheikh (1969-78) was virtually unstoppable who switched from left-out to left-in position - a testimony to his god-gifted talent. (2) Hanif Khan (1976-85), fearless who was never overawed by burly hard tackling European defenders. His superb play especially in opponent's danger area was one of Pakistan's strength. He was also a great goal scorer with 127 international goals.
  • Left Out: Samiullah (1973-82) - the "flying horse". He had unbelievable speed, excellent penetration into rival defence and superb crossing or passing. A great scorer - a novelty for a winger. He is the only Pakistani player to score in four World Cups.

This page was created on 1 January 2005 / 5 April 2006

Copyright©JalalsPages - 2005