Former Pakistan Hockey Team Captain and Goalkeeper Salman Akbar has been on the radars of hockey boards across the world and has become the “hot favourite” when it comes to Goalkeeping Coaching.
So, it’s no surprise that the Pakistan Hockey Federation too have been wanting to rope in the 37-year-old as their “Goalkeeping Coach” ahead of their crucial Olympic Qualifier against The Netherlands.
Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) Secretary Asif Bajwa recently contacted the veteran of 230 caps and offered him a position, however Salman turned down the offer.
Salman who currently runs his own Goalkeeping Academy (SGK Academy) in The Netherlands, and has also been training the Asian Games 2018 Gold Medallist Japanese Men’s hockey team told ‘The Dragflick’ that he had to turn down the offer due to numerous reasons.
“It would be an “honour” to coach in Pakistan. I have always wanted to serve my nation. However, I had to turn down the offer due to my professional commitments in The Netherlands where I train in different clubs as a Goalkeeping Coach.” Salman told ‘The Dragflick’.
Salman further said that it is not conducive to work with the PHF in their existing environment.
“Pakistan needs to re-think hockey, with a nationwide and long term vision, the game has to be developed in a professional manner. It is no secret that PHF lacks professionalism and that makes it a real challenge working with the current administrators.” Salman stated.
In February-March last year, the Pakistan Hockey Federation signed World Cup-winning Dutch trainer Roelant Oltmans as new head coach Roelant Oltmans, 63, who resigned shortly citing similar reasons.
Salman has also been disgruntled as far as the state of affairs in Pakistan hockey is concerned, specially with the board’s reappointment of Olympian Khawaja Junaid as Head Coach two years after he was sacked from the same post.
“People like Khawaja Junaid and many others who have done nothing but damaged the national sport are being re-appointed either in the coaching committee or in the selection committee. Instead of focusing on developing the sport, these people are more interested in playing political musical chairs. Either they are getting sacked or waiting for someone to be sacked,” said Salman.
Salman also said he believes that a team aiming for an appearance at the Olympics needs a vision and a mission.
“The PHF have no clear road-map, no plans, no strategy. That is not how you work at the International Stage specially if you are aiming to go to the Olympics,” Salman said.
Asked how different it was working with the Japanese team who he has been training at regular intervals since 2018, Salman said;
“The Japanese team are very professional. They have very clear objectives, a goal, and a plan which they execute to the T. As I am based in The Netherlands and a Goalkeeping Trainer at different clubs, my first commitment is with these clubs. But a schedule is laid out mutually, for them to know my availability and for me to know when I will be required,” Salman stated.
The Pakistan hockey team have been drawn against The Netherlands team, and will meet on October 26 – 27 in Amsterdam, for what is going to be the final chance for teams to qualify for the Olympics.