March 31, 2023

By Ahmet Abdulaziz ….

As I have written previously, hockey has always remained one of my passions. Just to clarify here that since I am from Pakistan hockey means field hockey. It is the same with most of the Asian countries, where people usually do not have much idea about ice hockey.

As was common in the area where I used to live, some 55 or more years ago,  all of the children used to play on the streets and cricket and hockey were the major team games that we played. Though I was more interested in hockey, most of the other boys of my age were more interested in cricket, so I also continued playing cricket with friends on the street in front of our houses. At times we would arrange matches with  teams from other areas but all such matches were played in open grounds. There had been two grounds in our area. When I say “playing ground”, I mean two open areas, which the government had reserved for some purpose. It does not refer to availability of any sports facilities, etc. Rather, since all matches of small boys (we were in the ranges of 6-12 years of age, in those days), were played at the same ground, so at times there were more than 4 or 5 matches being played at the same ground. Interestingly the harmony always prevailed and there were no problems for making rooms for others.

When I was in middle school, I was more inclined to play hockey. For some period of time I had been going to play hockey in another locality, at a distance of some 2 kilometres. But there too, we used to play hockey on the street as there was neither any ground nearby, nor were we all serious enough to think about becoming a hockey player. Playing hockey was just to go out and play on the street. I played in that area for a couple of months, and found myself extremely motivated and realised that my skills were getting better day by day.

At that time I heard of someone starting an amateur hockey club for boys of my age in that area and immediately got enrolled there. The club did not have any playing ground or any facility whatsoever. Actually the formation of that club was just an idea of a university boy, who had thought of doing something adventurous, without money.  The players were supposed to pool money to buy the ball. We also pooled money to get our blue shirts, with the club monogram on it, and white shorts. Shoes and socks were already bought by each of us.

Hockey Photo by Patrick Case from Pexels

The guy, who was the owner of the club, anxiously arranged a couple of matches with other clubs, in somewhat better grounds. For us, a muddy ground, with markings on the ground, and two goal posts, were more more than sufficient to make us happy. We had to pool money to arrange for bus fares to reach the playing ground where the matches were organised. With all these hurdles, I kept on playing hockey, in the half line, for a couple of months.

Those were perhaps the most wonderful days of my life. I was seriously playing hockey, under a non-serious club organiser, with uninterested team mates. There were never any practices of the club at home. We were still playing on the street, with anybody who could manage to buy a hockey stick and come out to participate. A non-serious daily practice session was keeping my dream of becoming a hockey player alive.

I remember that I was equally capable of playing both as right half and left half equally well, but my plus point was my hard work in the field. Usually the halfbacks do not get much chance of scoring goals in field hockey, so I never scored a goal in any match. I remember that on an overall basis I was just an ordinary person who wanted to play hockey. Unfortunately, that particular club did not live long, and my desire to advance further in the field of hockey, remained a desire. Due to various reasons, I stopped going and playing hockey in that distant locality, and returned back to my own area, where most of the boys were interested in playing cricket.

That was the time when I started concentrating more on my studies. Music too had entered into my life at the same time. My love for hockey, went into the background, though I continued playing on the street in front of our house, mostly alone, since other boys were not interested.

At that time, I went to a local well known local hockey club, which was registered with the Hockey Federation. There everything was very professionally organised. They took me into their B team. For a couple of weeks i participated in their daily practices, but then my parents decided to move to another part of the city, thus my adventure with one professional hockey club ended abruptly. I still think that at that moment I should have tried to find a way to go daily to the club for the practice. Unfortunately, instead of taking my hockey seriously, I opted to let it go. So I left the hockey club and returned back to my non-serious solo hockey on the street. Honestly speaking, I preferred my studies, drawing/painting and music, at the expense of hockey.

Looking back, I think that there might have been a chance for my moving ahead in the field of hockey had I continued playing with that club, during early 70s. There were chances that the professional coaches of the club would have polished me, and made me a better player. I might have risen to play for the A team of the club, and from there to participate in the divisional championship, and then to the national hockey championship. Who knows, I might have been selected for the national hockey team. Anything could have happened if I had become a bit more serious about hockey.

That period of my life has passed, not to return back, but I still think that maybe I did have the talent to become a good field hockey player.

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