KARACHI – Pakistan Hockey Federation’s  hockey academies which took firm roots in the tenure of current head of Pakistan Hockey former Olympian fullback Qasim Zia have started yielding good results by producing talented players who have  been instrumental in recent successes of Pakistan senior team, said former international athlete M Talib who was involved in the fitness side of hockey for a number of years and the launching of the idea of the academies here on Monday.

Recalling his role in floating the initial idea of hockey academies, he said former PHF president Kirmani  who replaced general Aziz Khan had specially invited him to discuss how hockey could be promoted at the grassroots and added that as he had experience of running an athletics fitness school he knew what areas should be addressed while starting an academy.

He said he submitted a detailed plan to the PHF which implemented it. Later on Qasim Zia and Asif Bajwa added new concepts to the scheme. He said no sports could be promoted without setting up academies and teaching the youngsters the importance of the physical fitness side of that particularly sports.

He said  he was running his Athletics Fitness School located at hockey Club of Pakistan free and it was open to every one interested in fitness. National hockey stars, cricketers, footballers and boxers all attended his school.

But his major contribution was attracting school boys and girls to his school. So far over 3000 school boys and girls have attended his school since he started it 33 years ago with the support of his friends.

Under the fast changing circumstances, he said hockey needed far better fitness than in the past when the sports was played on grassy grounds. After the game switched over to astroturf and other kinds of plastic surfaces  at Montreal Olympics in 1976 the players needed far bigger fitness and flexible muscles to cope up with the new concepts.

New hockey rules like rolling substitution, no off side rules, new concept of hockey niners, new penalty corner rules which will be implemented soon at international level will further change the face of the game and would demand greater fitness.

He congratulated the PHF and Pakistan team for its victories at international level and praised the PHF and  Qasim Zia and Asif Bajwa for striving despite opposition, the atmosphere that would be beneficial to the sports.