KARACHI: Pakistan’s national hockey team is training these days for the upcoming Asian Games at the Olympian Islahuddin-Dr Shah Hockey Academy in Karachi’s North Nazimabad locality.
But, upon a visit to the said venue, it seemed as if hockey, the country’s de facto national game, has become a long-forgotten sport, never to be played again.
The board displaying the name of the grounds has come off its support and lies on the ground, the walls unpainted, and the chalkboards unclean.
The Islahuddin-Dr Shah Academy lacks even the most basic facilities that pertain to the sport. The ground is in a poor condition, with goal posts featuring torn nets and benches in the spectator stands broken. Even the valuable, blue-coloured AstroTurf — the artificial grass surface installed at sports fields — is tattered in various places.
The lack of a proper system in place for the ground’s upkeep has led to the deteriorating condition of the expensive AstroTurf as well as the ruined benches.
There, obviously, seems to be no cleaning arrangement either for those few benches that have not succumbed to the negligence yet.
The AstroTurf is full of dust and dirt — a very obvious proof that it has not been cleaned with water. The drainage on the edges is also quite dirty and the garbage-filtering mechanism sits damaged and ignored.
Players on the national hockey team, on the other hand, are worried about their remuneration.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, one player said: “We are only concerned about our pays; once we are paid, the problems will be resolved.”
Surprisingly, Roelant Oltmans, the Dutch head coach of the Pakistani men’s national hockey team, is not bothered either. During the practice games, if a ball or two is shot out of the grounds, that’s not an issue, he told Geo News. “Everything is good,” he said.
As if it was not disappointing enough to see the disregarded grounds for a camp that starts at 6AM in the morning, the institute only had one container of drinking water for the entire team — something that is, perhaps, not even enough for a handful of the players.
The 18th Asian Games, also known as Asiad, are scheduled to be held from August 18 to September 2, 2018 in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia.