Can Indo-Pak series revive hockey in both nations? Tell us!
Pakistani Olympian Akhtar Rasool is heartbroken to see the current sorry state of hockey in India and Pakistan.
And, the head coach and manager of the Pakistan hockey team, who was witness to the golden era of hockey in both countries, believes that regular bilateral series will help both nations come out of the rot they are lying in.
"India and Pakistan have taught hockey to the world but they are now struggling to regain their past glory. I feel, we should play against each other more often. We are not playing with each other. That's why European teams are beating us," Rasool said.
"If we play more with each other, I think we can slowly and steadily rise up the ladder and dominate world hockey again," he said.
"If we can't play in our respective countries we can play a bilateral series at a neutral venue just like cricket. We just need to have the courage," said the former centre-half, who was a member of Pakistan's gold medal-winning team in 1978 and 1982 World Cups.
Image: India's Singh Raj Pal (left) battles for the ball with Pakistan's Muhammad Rashid during their match at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, Guangdong
Photographs: Mick Tsikas/Reuters
'World hockey needs India and Pakistan'
India and Pakistan were scheduled to play a home-and-away bilateral hockey series this year but it was called off after the Indian government refused permission on security grounds.
Pakistan's hockey team was scheduled to tour India in April this year for five Test matches, which would have revived the bilateral hockey ties between the two traditional rivals in nearly seven years.
Rasool, on his part, has invited the Indian hockey team to visit Pakistan.
He also said that the basics of the game have changed drastically.
"Now, hockey has become a power game, hockey has totally changed. The Europeans are now dominating hockey but when you consider the art aspect associated with the game, India and Pakistan will always be superior," Rasool observed.
Eight-time Olympic champions India and neighbours Pakistan, are facing the prospect of missing out on a World Cup berth for the first time since the launch of the tournament in 1971, but Rasool said the quadrennial event needs both the countries' participation.
"I hope that India and Pakistan face each other in the Asia Cup final. It would be the best thing to happen for Asian hockey.
"But world hockey needs India and Pakistan. If FIH wants to build the World Cup and popularise it, India and Pakistan must be there," he said.
Image: India's hockey fans cheer their team during the 2010 Commonwealth Games
Photographs: B Mathur/Reuters