Let’s go green again!

Let’s support the Green shirts for putting up an incredible performance.

Pakistan’s national hockey team, the Green shirts, meet Australia in the Sultan Azlan Shah Hockey Cup final.

Is it just me or has no one seemed to notice this – not even after Pakistan beat arch-rivals India 3-1?

It is ironic that hockey, which is our national sport, does not enjoy the same stature as that enjoyed by cricket. A perfect example would be that around the same time that the Pakistan national cricket team crashed miserably against West Indies in the first Test match, the Green shirts won the qualifier against host team Malaysia 3-2 and cruised into the finals. Yet, sportstelevision channels in Pakistan showed the cricket match and not the hockey match.

So fixated we have become with national interest that things like national sport have taken a back seat in our country. A friend once pointed out, while standing in an obscure milk shop in a middle-income locality in Karachi, that he and Pakistan’s star penalty corner specialist Sohail Abbas buy milk from the same shop. If a Pakistani cricketer bought milk at that shop, it would probably have been sponsored by one of the big milk brands or at least by a soft drink!

This lack of attention and fan-following is disheartening despite a flash of brilliance in Asian Games held in China in November 2010, where Pakistan ended an otherwise dull year by winning a gold medal for hockey.

I spent a considerable part of my Saturday, first trying to find a channel showing the hockey semi-final and then buying a Pakistan hockey team jersey in Zainab Market in Karachi. I couldn’t find either but at the market, all the shopkeepers tried to sell me a Manchester United jersey because the team had just clinched the English Premier League title.

Although Pakistan are the underdogs in the final match, let’s support the Green shirts for putting up an incredible performance, which seems to have gone largely unnoticed in the mesh of news. After all there are a lot of Pakistani institutions that have disappointed us lately – cricket, army, parliament – and those that have performed well, like hockey, deserve all the attention that they can get.

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