One of the most memorable wins for Pakistan in Hockey is the World Cup win in 1994 that brought to the forefront a hero – Shahbaz Ahmad. He went on to become one of the best forwards in the history of Hockey. After having joined the national hockey team in 1986, he masterminded a brilliant win – the 1994 world cup. Shahbaz Ahmad was nicknamed “the man with the electric heels” and led Pakistan from the front in the 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989 Champions Trophy tournaments; 1988 Seoul Olympics; 1989 Asia Cup in New Delhi; 1990 World Hockey Cup in Lahore; 1990 BMW Trophy Amsterdam; 1990 Beijing Asiad and the most memorable of them all – the 1994 World Cup Hockey in Sydney.
The Hockey World Championships is considered to be an international field hockey competition just like FIFA soccer world cup where teams from across the world participate to win the coveted cup. It is organized once every 4 years by the International Hockey Federation (FIH). The first world cup was started in 1971. There are two versions of the Hockey world cup – the men’s and the women’s. So far five countries have dominated the Hockey world cup but the most successful team is Pakistan who has won it four times. The Netherlands has won the Hockey world cup three times, Germany two times while both India and Australia have won it once. The 2010 Hockey world cup is going to be held in India.
In fact, the entire concept of the Hockey World Cup was conceived by Air Marshal Nur Khan of Pakistan. The idea was proposed to FIH under the name of Patrick Rowley who was the first editor of the World Hockey magazine. The idea got the approval on 26th October, 1969 and was adopted by the then FIH Council in a meeting that was held in Brussels on 12th April, 1970. The FIH came to the conclusion that the inaugural or first hockey World Cup should be held in Pakistan in October 1971. However, due to political strife and several other issues, the venue of the World Cup was moved from Pakistan to the Real Club de Polo grounds in Barcelona, Spain.
The 1971 Hockey world cup in Spain was won by Pakistan who defeated Spain 1-0 in the finals. In the 1994 World Cup in Sydney Australia, Pakistan was up against a strong opponent – The Netherlands. The match ended in a 1-1 draw and went into extra time and then into penalties. Pakistan then went on to win the final on penalties and the score line read 4-3. This was the 4th world cup for Pakistan and Shahbaz Ahmad led them to victory in style. This further reinforced Pakistan as one of the top hockey playing countries of the world. Shahbaz Ahmad also won another laurel – the player of the tournament.
As the 2010 Hockey world cup date draws close, we will have to wait and watch out for the “men in green!”