Reasons behind hockey players’ drought in Karachi

Reasons behind hockey players’ drought in Karachi


Hanif Khan says that the sport has become unaffordable for the poor

Reasons behind hockey players’ drought in Karachi

Image: File Photo


There was a time when the metropolitan city of the country, Karachi, used to produce numerous hockey players for the national team. However, it has been years since the city, which has an estimated population of more than 20 million, has not produced a single hockey star for Pakistan.

Bol News talked exclusively to former Olympian Hanif Khan to know the reasons why the metropolis has stopped producing top-notch players for the country.

Khan, who trains budding hockey players free of cost at the Karachi Hockey Association (KHA), pinpointed numerous factors that have killed players’ nursery and one of them is a lack of facilities.

“There was a time when hockey was played in every street of Karachi,” he mentioned. “However, these days, it is hard to find hockey sticks in sports shops. There is only one KHA [hockey facility] in the city where a little bit of hockey is being played, apart from that there is no other space to play the sport.”


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Moreover, he also blamed the lethargic and unhealthy city lifestyle for the dip in the number of hockey players produced by the city.

According to Khan, there is an overall decline in interest in sports in urban areas, especially in Karachi.

“A large number of people living in urban areas [including Karachi] go to bed late at night and wake up late in the morning,” he said. “This is not the case in rural areas and this is the reason why the kids from the rural areas have outshone players of urban areas.”

Moreover, the excessive usage of technology, gaming and the use of mobile phones have taken the young generation away from sporting activities.

“I see today’s generation is more interested in other things than their game. If one uses a mobile phone all overnight, how can they give 100% in training?” he questioned.


It has often been argued that hockey players are underpaid and there is no or very little monetary reward for representing the country at the highest stage. Khan backed this point and maintained that there is no financial stability in this sport.

“No one wants to come [in this sport],” he said. “What can I say to anyone when my own younger generation is not associated with hockey. A major reason behind this is a lack of financial stability. Earlier, people used to come to sports for jobs but the government closed the departments. Why would anyone come now?”

With time, like all other sports or you may say commodities, hockey has also become unaffordable for the poor in the country. The former Olympian stated that a hockey stick can cost as much as Rs6,000, while a pair of Astroturf shoes can have a price tag of Rs15,000.

“How can the poor afford it? This is the reason why the common man is no longer associated with the game,” he reminisced. “KHA is providing free training and equipment which is why a few players come here to play. Otherwise, in this era of inflation, the poor can either run their kitchen or play hockey.”

The 62-year-old is not much optimistic about the future of the national sport in the country and afraid that if things don’t improve in the near future, hockey will become extinct in Pakistan.

He urged the government to reopen departments so that there are jobs for local players. Apart from that, he emphasised the need of working at the grass-root level to promote the game.


“If more hockey is played at U16, U19 and club level, then the quality of Pakistan hockey will improve in the next few years,” he suggested.

Khan also expressed grievances for his fellow athletes as to why the former hockey players of Karachi did not work for the promotion of the game.

“Hockey has given wealth and honour to everyone, so why aren’t they returning anything to the game?” he asked. “Every Olympian, if he works in his area, will surely bring out talent for the country.”

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