New Delhi: Pakistan hockey legend Tahir Zaman feels both India and his country need strong youth development programmes and quality home-grown coaches instead of looking for "short-cuts" if the two nations want to reclaim their glorious past in the game.
Both eight-time Olympic champions India and Pakistan might have an illustrious history, but the two nations are presently struggling to match the standards of teams like Australia and European countries.
While Pakistan hockey suffered a major jolt in August when the four-time champions failed to qualify for 2014 World Cup for the first time, India narrowly secured a berth in the quadrennial event to be played at The Hague, Netherlands after Australia won the Oceania Cup.
Asked what was the way forward for the sub-continental giants, Zaman simply said, "There is no short-cut to success."
"From my point of view the need of hour for both India and Pakistan is to work on development programmes. We need to work on youth, provide international level training to youngsters so as to help them grow as quality players," the former Pakistan captain told PTI in an interview.
"If we keep on searching for shortcuts and expect results in just six months, it won't be a realistic approach. The realistic approach is to work at grassroot level. It's high time we correct our process, give a new direction to the working system," he said.
Zaman said without quality coaches, both India and Pakistan would not be able to produce world-class players. "We need to develop and educate our players and for that we need 10-12 educated coaches in the country who are abreast with needs of modern day hockey. Until and unless there is a good teacher, there can't be a good student. As long as, we don't upgrade knowledge of our coaches, we don't facilitate our coaches. I don't think we are going in the right direction," Zaman said.
"We need quality coaches, educated coaches. I feel if we can produce quality players in the next three to four years, then we can compete with the top teams of the world."
Of late, foreign coaches have been the trend for India and Pakistan. Even though Zaman is not against foreign coaches in the subcontinent, but he gave simple explanation why they can't be successful.
"India and Pakistan's culture are completely different from the West. It takes at least two years for a foreigner to understand our culture. But we being result-oriented nations, we want instant results," said Zaman, who is the coach of Pakistan's senior team and is here as a consultant with the national side for the Junior World Cup hockey.
Both India and Pakistan cut a sorry figure in the ongoing Junior World Cup having failed to qualify for the quarterfinals.
Asked what went wrong with the two sides, Zaman said India and Pakistan performed way below their potential in the 16-team event.
"I think it was pressure of World Cup. The World Cup phobia got over the heads of our boys. I think they could not settle under the immense pressure of expectations, pressure of delivering. There was an also element of anxiety in their performance," he said.
"To be very honest, Pakistan did not play to their potential in any of the matches so far in this tournament. Losing against Germany was nightmare because we were in a pool of death," said Zaman, a member of Pakistan's 1994 World Cup-winning side.
"Similarly I feel for the Indian team. I have seen these Indian players. I have seen some of these Indian players playing in senior side. I feel that the Indians too could not give their best performance. The Indians had the pressure of home crowd and I feel they could not settle under that pressure," he said.
"Both India and Pakistan have capacity and potential to play much better hockey."
Both India and Pakistan fielded some players from the senior side in this Junior World Cup and Zaman said the decision might have backfired for both the nations.
"Somewhere down the line we also need to ask the question that is some of the players overused. They keep on rotating between the junior and senior side. I feel some of the players are lacking the hunger to play hockey.
"When you compare it with other teams, they have separate junior and senior sides. They are very less players in other sides who are playing or have played in the senior side. So you could see the vigour and hunger in their eyes," he said.
Zaman feels both India and Pakistan need to adopt a realistic approach to revive bilateral ties between the two countries, a must to improve the standard of the game.