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Sohail scores off the turf too

Deepti Patwardhan in Hyderabad | February 11, 2005 22:05 IST

"Hockey has been an amateur game. With the Premier Hockey League it is getting professional," said former Pakistan ace drag flicker Sohail Abbas, who is representing Hyderabad Sultans in the ongoing league in Hyderabad on Friday.

Five members of the Sultans team -- Abbas, his countrymen Waseem Ahmed and Ahmed Alam, and India captain Dilip Tirkey and Ajitesh Roy -- strutting in their brilliant blue colours, visited the students of the Ivy League Academy on the outskirts of Hyderabad on Friday.

The world's highest goal scorer was appreciative of the response he and the other Pakistani players participating in the league have received.

"Whenever we play against India the feeling back home is that we should beat them. Then it's okay even if we lose in the Olympics or the World Cup. I am sure even the Indian players have to undergo that pressure.

"But now, with increased bilateral ties and Pakistani players participating in an Indian league, the mentality is changing day by day. That is good for hockey, good for humanity and good for both the countries," he said.

With some of the best players coming together under one roof, the students of Ivy had a field day shooting off their queries. And Abbas was clearly the crowd favourite. The drag-flicker was eloquent, answering whatever the youngsters asked.

After the usual questions about the game subsided, out came an unusual request. One of the Ivy boys asked Abbas to sing a few lines of a song from his favourite Hindi film. The 28-year-old quickly retorted: "The best Indian movie I have seen here [in India] is 'Black' and that has no songs."

Apart from him, the surprise star was 17-year-old Ajitesh. The youngster, playing for the first time in a national league, was too shy to address the gathering, but when asked a question on hockey, he came out with an astounding answer.

'Indian players are supposed to be very skilful… then why is it that they are not better than the Europeans?'

"That's because we concentrate too much on playing skilful hockey and not on playing a perfect game. The day we stop talking too much about skills and start looking at results we will do better," he said.


Premier Hockey League: The Complete Coverage

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