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Hockey and the Gojra riots in Pakistan

Hockey and the Gojra riots in Pakistan

Aamir Bilal, qualified sports coach in Pakistan, shares his thoughts on hockey and social unrest in his country.

by Aamir Bilal

Gojra has surfaced recently because of an increase in ethnic riots. Gojra is however also known in the history of national sport as the home of hockey talent with a long list of fantastic and artistic players.

These hockey stars include players from all sects and religions and is played for the glory of Pakistan. These stars were worshipped in society as "social icons" who have, however, ceased to exist because of the sad demise of hockey in the country.

All great leaders including Chairman Mao and Nelson Mandela understood the power of youth and the value sport adds in building national character. But sport in Pakistan has unfortunately never been understood as a science or as a vehicle of social transformation in the country.

Sport in Pakistan owes a lot to the Christian minority who produced outstanding sportsmen in almost all the sports. Young Men Christian Association (YMCA), Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) and missionary schools made significant contributions in developing sport in Pakistan.

Unfortunately, the nationalisation of educational institutions in the seventies followed by unfavourable education policies in the early eighties shook the very foundations of our education and sport system and forced a number of committed teachers and social workers to leave the country for good.

The ancient war strategist Sun-Tzu believed that the key to triumph in battle is unity of purpose and heart. You can only win in a battle (and in sport) if the group agrees to accept roles and their heart and souls are focused on the team’s journey to victory.

In his famous book, Values of the Game, Bill Bradley writes that "championships are not won unless a team has forged a high degree of unity, attainable only through the selflessness of each player" and that "untrammeled individualism destroys the chance for achieving victory".

Gojra is indeed at the tip of the iceberg. Who knows what is in store for other sport cities like Nawan Killi, Quetta and Sialkot? Let’s hope the situation improves so that serious efforts are made by the government and private sector to engage youth in meaningful and constructive activities like sport, through well thought out education and community programs.

[This article has been edited by the Operating Team]


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Aamir Bilal


Saturday, August 8, 2009 - 23:00


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