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  1. #1
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    An Interview with Pakistani Hockey legend - Sohail Abbas [With Audio Link]



    PakPassion.Net: Tell us about your earlier years in hockey.

    Sohail Abbas: I started from Habib Public School. I was captain of the school team. I am from Karachi and was the captain of the team from all schools of Karachi. Then I went to DJ Science College. I was captain of the college team as well. Then I played the tournament of all colleges. Then, I joined the Pakistan Juniors team camp. Unfortunately I couldnít play for the Pakistan Juniors team although I was part of the camp for four years in a row.

    PakPassion.Net: Why was that?

    Sohail Abbas: I donít really know. May be other players were better than me at the time. I went on two three tours but couldnít really play. My debut was against India in 1998, just before the World Cup, in a bilateral series against India.

    PakPassion.Net: I am also from Habib. When I joined, Safdar Abbas was very famous there. I hear you are his nephew. How much was his contribution towards the huge success you enjoyed in hockey?

    Sohail Abbas: Yes, he is my uncle. It was very hard to get into Habib. It was my uncle who got me admitted to that school. That was a major contribution because all the rest came after that. When my uncle was at the peak of his game, I was too little to know anything about hockey. Later on, when I learnt what hockey was, I benefitted from him as well about how to work hard. But he was a forward and I was a defender. Although I wanted to play as a forward at school, but I guess it was my destiny to play as a defender.

    PakPassion.Net: What inspired you to become a penalty corner expert? There was no concept of a PC specialist in Pakistan before you.

    Sohail Abbas: Penalty corner was not in my mind to start with. Like I told you earlier, I wanted to play forward as all I wanted to do was score goals. But our hockey coach, Wahid saahab Ė may Allah grant him Paradise, told me that my body structure was such that it was best if I played as a defender. I was dejected because I realized that I wonít be able to score goals now. I was fond of long scoops. I started watching the hockey movies from Holland and Germany and I realized that those people used pushes in the short corner. Nobody did that in Pakistan, so there was nobody to teach me anyway. So I started practice on my own, all alone in the ground with a lot of balls. Allah rewarded my efforts and that practice paid dividends later on.

    PakPassion.Net: Did you model yourself on any international player in the art of scoops or penalty corner in general?

    Sohail Abbas: There was Bram Lomans from Holland and Tom from Germany. The movies I watched were of Lomans and Tom. And interestingly enough, I went to play a tournament and my hero Lomans was there, and I scored more than him. In fact I was the highest scorer of the tournament. It was a memorable moment for me.

    PakPassion.Net: You are in a camp at the moment. Which camp is this?

    Sohail Abbas: I am in the Pakistan team camp at Lahore and we are preparing for the World Cup to be held in Delhi next month. Our first match is against India on the 28th.

    PakPassion.Net: In view of the recent IPL controversy, do you foresee any difficulty you might experience in participating in the world cup?

    Sohail Abbas: In the beginning, when we started the camp, there were a few rumours and there was concern on the part of the players, but we have put our hearts and souls into the training. At the moment it is 50-50. You can say that there is a a green signal that we will be able to participate. The IPL thing was sad, and these political things should never happen to sportsmen as they are ambassadors of peace.

    PakPassion.Net: Do you have any concerns on visiting India yourself?

    Sohail Abbas: The world cup comes after four years. No player will wish to miss the world cup ever. And this one is in India! And the first match is against India as well. If we are able to show good performance in this one, it will be huge. So we are very enthusiastic about it.

    PakPassion.Net: We all know about the glorious past of Pakistan hockey. What about the future? It has been a long time since we won big things like the World Cup and Olympics. What are the reasons for this decline? When will we be able to change our fortunes?

    Sohail Abbas: After 1994, when we won the world cup for the last time in Sydney with players of the quality of Shehbaz Senior and Mansoor, many players retired unfortunately, leaving a big vacuum. At the same time, a lot of hockey rules were changed, and we never really coped with all that. Then four five years ago, I too resigned and went to Holland to play, after I broke the world record for goals.

    PakPassion.Net: But what is the reason behind this chronic lack of quality? Why canít we produce more players of your standard? You have played hockey at all levels, and must know the root of the problem.

    Sohail Abbas: Talent of the like of Hasan Sardar is not there; there are no two ways about it. That said, youngsters with potential are still there. Up until a few years ago, what was happening was that the moment we lost a tournament the federation was changed and new people came (along with their favourite boys), and hence there was no atmosphere for a good hockey team to develop. It must be understood that nobody has a magic lamp that can suddenly transform a team into world beaters. Good teams grow over time. In these last three four years though, there has been a lot of hard work done on this team, and a good lot Ė a good mixture of senior and junior players Ė is ready for the world cup.

    PakPassion.Net: Do you see any special players coming up, especially the heirs or successors of your unique talent?

    Sohail Abbas: I am not basically a coach but I have done some coaching in Holland on a few occasions and I try to teach anybody who is interested. The penalty corner flick is something that causes a lot of injuries if done without proper training, so I make sure that I help all interested players in terms of important knowhow Ė weight training, quality work, weight of hockey, number of balls, etc. Some good youngsters are there, and I am trying to spread this art.

    PakPassion.Net: Cricket has always been given more projection than hockey. You must resent it. Why is this difference of glamour in the two sports in your opinion?

    Sohail Abbas: Well, envy is probably always there, as it is very much in human nature. Cricketers might be envious of footballers; footballers might be envious of Golf players. As for Cricket and Hockey, the former is a professional sport while the latter is still an amateur sport, so the difference will be there. But if you consider the highest achievements, the Cricketers have only won one World Cup I believe, whereas the hockey players have won five or six World cups. So there has been a lot of glory in hockey. But since there is more money in Cricket, people tend to focus on that more. In Hockey there isn't that much money, but it requires sustained hard work regardless. Then they donít show all Hockey matches on TV either, whereas they show all Cricket matches for the whole day. Even if a Cricketer gets a golden duck, the camera still focuses on him all the way back to the pavilion, helmet in hand, and so people watch him. Hockey is so fast that our own family members have a hard time locating us in the field. Itís a matter of luck as well. But hopefully things will change with time.

    PakPassion.Net: But why donít the former hockey greats and other people interested in the revival of this great sport approach TV channels etc and tell them the importance of advertising and commercializing hockey? Like in India they promote Hockey in a very glamorous way, with fancy names for teams.

    Sohail Abbas: Yes, they started this Premier Hockey League in India which was very similar to IPL. I too went to play for the first season for Hyderabad Deccan, and we won that tournament. The coverage was wonderful and people really followed the tournament. But then it couldnít continue for long, as differences arose among the organizers. Then it was held in Pakistan, but there too it couldnít continue on account of mismanagement and corruption. Besides, the funds were lacking. If these things are organized with integrity and sincerity, thereís no stopping hockey because a match finishes in seventy minutes and people love it.

    PakPassion.Net: At Habib where you hail from, hockey is a way of life. But what about places like say Gojra? What is the situation there in terms of facilities and awareness? How about astro-turfs?

    Sohail Abbas: At Habib we were lucky to have good grounds. The biggest problem is the lack of grounds, and especially in big cities where there are so many activities available to youngsters, like videogames, internet, etc. Then they donít care about hockey.

    But if you go to places like Gojra, Bahawalpur etc, where there are fewer activities available to youngsters, more people are playing hockey. Then people get contracted jobs for playing hockey. Normally hockey players donít hail from elite classes and parents encourage their kids to play hockey, as it might enable them to get a good job.

    As for astro-turfs in Pakistan we have about 15-20 astro-turfs. Ones worthy of being played on would be not more than 8-10. In Holland they need 600 and they have more than 600 astro-turfs available. About 250 to 300 thousand people play hockey in Holland. I have played for Rotterdam myself, and they have 7 turfs and 2,200 members who get paid to play hockey! So we lag a great deal behind Holland but we are still competing with them.

    PakPassion.Net: How does an average hockey player support himself financially considering the fact that hockey is still an amateur sport?

    Sohail Abbas: In Pakistan, Hockey is mainly a day sport. We practice and play during the day. With all the practice involved, there is no time to work. The good thing though is, provided that you are a good player, one of the departments hires you on contract or permanently. You play for the club, and the country, and get salary as well. When you retire, you can continue in that department, learning on the job. Thatís a satisfactory situation.

    Abroad, they play night hockey and work during the day.

    PakPassion.Net: We, at PakPassion, mostly cover Cricket. Pakistan just lost 5-0 in ODIs and 3-0 in Tests against Australia. And then there was the Afridi incident! As a sportsman, what do you think is wrong with Pakistan Cricket?

    Sohail Abbas: This is a difficult question for me as Cricket is not my sport. I try not to comment on other sports but it seems that as compared to other teams, we are not up to the mark in terms of fitness and mental strength. Our players always seem to be under pressure to score for their spot in the team, while the opposition is playing for the team. Then there are rivalries, and ego problems within the team.

    I have always believed that hard work done during practice shows. If it is not showing in terms of results for such a long time, then there has to be some problem in the quality of training as well, I believe.

    PakPassion.Net: You are 33 years old and you have more than 300 international goals already. Where do you see Sohail Abbas in next five years?

    Sohail Abbas: I have 306 goals at the moment. My motto when I started hockey was: I will never quit working hard, and will think good for everybody. Then whatever Allah has in store for me, I will get, and will accept. My motto in future will remain unchanged. I will keep on working hard, but I donít know what Allah has in store for me. I am in the World Cup team, and who knows I might play the London Olympics of 2012 as well. Or I might leave before that. One can never predict injuries anyway. I can tell you about the past but canít predict the future; what I can do is work as hard as I can. The rest is in Allahís hands.

    PakPassion.Net: Any coaching plans for future?

    Sohail Abbas: Yes I am interested in coaching. There is need for coaches in Pakistan. There arent any coaches for drag flicks in Pakistan and I would like to impart this knowledge to youngsters. Apart from that I am employed by Wapda and will continue to work - incidentally, I am also completing a Masters Degree in Health and Sciences from Karachi University.

    PakPassion.Net: Many thanks for your time and we wish you all the best.

    Sohail Abbas: Thanks.
    Last edited by MIG; 4th February 2010 at 17:46.


    For answers to the Universe, Life and everything : TheSourceNews(TSN)

  2. #2
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    Many thanks to Maestro Sohail for his precious time - especially since he is busy with the training camp for the upcoming World Cup in New Dehli.

    And a special thanks to our own Momo for his help in transcribing this.

    I will post an audio link to this interview as well.

    For the moment enjoy and make sure you wish the Pakistani team the best of luck in India!


    For answers to the Universe, Life and everything : TheSourceNews(TSN)

  3. #3
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    Chaht keh nechay :)
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    Great stuff PP Mods!!

    First hockey player interview was done and it was done with a legend!! Great stuff!!

    Thanks for the interview Mods!! Will be waiting for the audio link

    JAzakALLAH Khair

  4. #4
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    I have never really been able to follow hockey as they never showed it where I lived. I know about Sohail Abbas and Pakistan's great achievements. What are Pakistan's chanves looking like to win this World Cup?

  5. #5
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    One of best Interviews ive read on PP. Excellent stuff.

  6. #6
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    Thanks SO SO SO much, GREAT interview!

    Thanks SO much PP, MIG and Momo!

    PakPassion.Net: You are 33 years old and you have more than 300 international goals already. Where do you see Sohail Abbas in next five years?

    Sohail Abbas: I have 306 goals at the moment. My motto when I started hockey was: I will never quit working hard, and will think good for everybody. Then whatever Allah has in store for me, I will get, and will accept. My motto in future will remain unchanged. I will keep on working hard, but I donít know what Allah has in store for me. I am in the World Cup team, and who knows I might play the London Olympics of 2012 as well. Or I might leave before that. One can never predict injuries anyway. I can tell you about the past but canít predict the future; what I can do is work as hard as I can. The rest is in Allahís hands.
    He still looks to be quite fit, i hope he can carry on until 2012, it'll be great might even be able to watch him live.


    Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf...for the Quaid(ra) and Iqbal(ra)'s Pakistan

  7. #7
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    Thanks for this great interview!!!!
    Sohail Abbas is my most favorite hockey player. I admire him a lot.
    He's quite busy these days.. An it's good to know that he's willing to step forward for the betterment of Pak hockey by planning to coach and impart his knowledge to the youngsters in the future.
    All the best to Sohail and his team mates for the WC in India!


    #JusticeForFawad

  8. #8
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    Axcellent interview. The Abbas is a foyyeen player. :younis

    Good to see hockey coverage on PP. It's a tough sport to play in Pakistan. The players are in general much more athletic, but compared to cricket there's no glamor or money.

    Good luck to our team for the World Cup. Hopefully politics won't derail this campaign.


    Jo aql ka ghulam ho, woh dil na kar qubool
    Disown the heart that's slave to the mind
    -Iqbal

  9. #9
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    Good interview....

    I think it is good time for hockey team to do well and earn some fan follwing beacause cricket team is not doing well and if thay play good hockey in coming world cup ,fans will follow them

  10. #10
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    good read the book I mean. Sohail Abbas himself was l ike a good book, nice to read a a pinch of salt here and there. I find it difficult to place him with the Greats of Pakistan hockey.There used to be 11 match winners in t he team. Naseer Bunda (hero of Rome,Capt Hameedi,Habib Kiddi and Maj Atif to name a few. Sohail Abbas wasa s one man show who played for and earned personal glory.Pakistan team started playing for short corners so that our champion could put s those short hits in the back of net. Sometime it worked sometime it did not but it itwas somebody' gain at team's loss.

  11. #11
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    So him scoring goals for the team is the team's loss? Gotcha.


    Jo aql ka ghulam ho, woh dil na kar qubool
    Disown the heart that's slave to the mind
    -Iqbal

  12. #12
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    Great interview guys.

    Thanks MIG and Momo and of course Sohail Abbass



  13. #13
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    Great interview - that was an enjoyable read

  14. #14
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    Guy is a pure class and legend..thanks for the great interview.

  15. #15
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    I see my question about Mohammad Sami did not make the list. Mohammad Sami will not take kind to this next time PakPassion interview him.


    No one likes me cause I am a Paul Heyman guy.

  16. #16
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    Once again many thanks to Sohail for his time - incidentally, as expected, he is now part of the final squad for the World Cup in India.

    Pls click on below to download audio of this interview.

    http://www.sendspace.com/file/jccx0k


    For answers to the Universe, Life and everything : TheSourceNews(TSN)

  17. #17
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    Great interview, the consistency you see in the performances by Sohail Abbas over a career that long.. hes a great role model for all Pakistani sportsmen to follow, especially our over-paid, good-for-nothing cricketers.

    As Sohail says, his motto is to work hard -- keep it simple, and it gives you results.

    In comparison the motto of some of our cricketers is "make as much money as you can, before you get kicked out the team!".

  18. #18
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    By the way does anyone know which channel in the UK is broadcasting the Hockey world cup?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Majid Khan
    By the way does anyone know which channel in the UK is broadcasting the Hockey world cup?
    I'd say (looking at past tourney's and their coverage of hockey) most likely Eurosports.


    Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf...for the Quaid(ra) and Iqbal(ra)'s Pakistan

  20. #20
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    Just received an email from Sohail - thanking us for all the kind sentiments expressed in this thread.

    I have promised to talk to him on his return from India - Inshallah, with the World Cup in our posession !


    For answers to the Universe, Life and everything : TheSourceNews(TSN)

  21. #21
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    Great interview. Good luck to team in World Cup

    I wish hockey still had the same following and coverage as it was 25 years ago. Pakistan needs 1-3 other sports to divide the attention (take away from cricket) and that is likely to produce better results and less pain for fans

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by 12thMan
    Great interview. Good luck to team in World Cup

    I wish hockey still had the same following and coverage as it was 25 years ago. Pakistan needs 1-3 other sports to divide the attention (take away from cricket) and that is likely to produce better results and less pain for fans
    Well the gold in the SAF Games would have helped, and a good showing (InshAllah) in the forthcoming World Cup (coupled with whats happening atm with our cricket team) and who knows.


    Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf...for the Quaid(ra) and Iqbal(ra)'s Pakistan

  23. #23
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    Wouldnt it be a dream come true if this hockey team shows up its more pampered bretheren in cricket?


    For answers to the Universe, Life and everything : TheSourceNews(TSN)

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by MIG
    Wouldnt it be a dream come true if this hockey team shows up its more pampered bretheren in cricket?
    A World Cup win for the hockey team...at this time after the 'exploits' of the cricket team...in india.

    Would be fairy tale


    Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf...for the Quaid(ra) and Iqbal(ra)'s Pakistan


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