Monday September 26, 2022

With full support, Pakistan can win World Cup medal: Aikman

August 08, 2022

BIRMINGHAM: Pakistan hockey team head coach Siegfried Aikman has said if he is fully backed by the state and corporate sector in his plans then he is confident that the national team will press for the medal in the 2026 World Cup.

“Yes, if we get massive support from the state and corporate sector and if we are able to execute our plans then I am confident that we will play for a medal in the 2026 World Cup,” Aikman told ‘The News’ here in an exclusive interview.

“And that’s my plan which I already have prepared. This tournament (Commonwealth Games) is a learning tournament ahead of the Asian Games. We have now a year at our disposal before the Asiad as these have been postponed recently and I would take steps so that we could play the final,” Aikman said.

“And that’s possible but I need to work consistently with the team and I need a physical trainer who could work consistently with the team. We lack physically,” he said. “We already have a trainer from Australia but how to make him work, it’s a difficult thing because there is no money. He will need a long-term contract. We also need a goalkeeping coach as we also face issues in this zone.

“The curriculum which I want to create for achieving high performance, physical trainer should be part of it,” the Dutch coach said.

Aikman is in Birmingham and his brigade finished seventh in the Commonwealth Games on Saturday when they defeated Canada 4-3 in the 7th to 8th place outing here at the University of Birmingham.

Aikman wants to see hockey developed at the grassroots level and schools’ involvement, according to him, will be a huge input in the cause. But he will need a work permit so that he could reside in Pakistan and work properly.

“This is also the reason why I wanted to live in Pakistan. But unfortunately, I am yet to get a work permit. Every time I have to go back. I need a work visa to get into Pakistan. I have a single entry visa. If I get it then I will be able to live in a house here, will be able to keep a family and will be able to get out for development work. I also want to educate coaches. I want to create a coaching structure,” the 63 years old Aikman said.

“I want to teach them the basics of coaching and tactics. It’s important to learn skills-related tactics so that they could teach their children and I would like to do that,” Aikman said.

“I want to do two things. I would like to develop the national team and I also would want to leave a legacy of development,” the coach was quick to add. “And I have also made an agreement with the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF). We need to get the schools teachers in the coaching courses and need to create courses for them in all the states. If I have no camp and live in Pakistan so I can conduct those courses. I want to see hockey developed at the grassroots level especially at the school level. I have also asked some schools to put turfs and then I will coach their coaches,” Aikman said.

He also asked for top support from the state in various zones.

“The state should facilitate turfs, schools’ development programmes and we should arrange funding for school children. Hockey players come from poor families. I want a system to get the players into schools and get them educated so that they can play hockey. And if they are good so that they could come and practice,” he said.

“After finishing their education, they would grow as they would understand tactics better and they would have a better future. I would like to empower the children for the future so that they could get top education and after hockey careers they could do decent jobs because of their qualification. And I think we should support that plan,” Aikman said.

“This is a long-term goal. I cannot do all this. I can only suggest and then I will need support from Sports Board Punjab (SBP) and Sindh Sports Board (SSB) and all the provinces that develop the programme and manage funding in that sector,” he said.

“And so that we could get scholarships for children. I hope franchises of the Pakistan Hockey League should jump into that. The plan is very good. And we only need to execute it. In Pakistan it is a little difficult,” said the smiling Aikman.

Aikman said the current hockey players have no money.

“It’s simple that the current lot does not have money. I don’t know who should pay because I have heard so many stories and I don’t know but I know that there is no money,” Aikman said.

“And if there is no money, things become very difficult,” Aikman said. “We have no facilities to train our teams. We want stadiums and equipment so that I can communicate with the physio tower and analysis system which I can use. I have to share words with my physio analyst and if there is no equipment I cannot work,” he said.

Asked whether he is happy with Pakistan’s seventh-place finish in the Commonwealth Games Aikman said that he is happy that his boys have shown potential.

“It would have been nice had we made it to the semi-finals but did not. And on goal-difference we had to play the seventh-place game. It could have been fifth or sixth. But the boys have shown potential and I am happy with that,” Aikman said.

“I think we are in the right direction. And time and experience will bring further improvement. I want Pakistan to play many matches against top teams and in this event we got five matches and we can get it into the system,” Aikman signed off.