By Sahil Malhotra
Eight Pakistan players have defied the Pakistan Hockey Federation’s (PHF) threat to ban those participating in the World Series Hockey.
Besides ‘drag-flick hero’ Warsi, the others who decided to play in the league include ‘ace defender’ Zeeshan Ashraf, the ‘strategist’ Mudassar Ali, ‘junior prodigy’ Tariq Aziz, ‘Mr Cool’ Adnan Maqsood, ‘tackling wizard’ Waseem Ahmad, Rehan Butt and Shakeel Abbasi, the ‘game changer’.
PHF’s warning has failed to dissuade Warsi.
“I don’t care what they say. I don’t listen to anybody except my mind. I’m a player, not a terrorist,” stressed the animated striker.
Hockey has always been in the grey when it comes to money, fame and recognition. Unlike cricket, the sport has failed to hold eyeballs.
An initiative like WSH, apart from bringing recognition to the less talked-about sport, secures the players’ future.
“I will play, it is my bread and butter. More than anything else, I have to take care of my family,” said Warsi.
Earlier, Rehan Butt and Warsi starred in the controversial Premier Hockey League (PHL). Butt represented Bangalore Lions and Warsi was in the Maratha Warriors dug-out. Unfortunately, the league was stalled in its early days and couldn’t get recognition.
Playing for Chennai Cheetahs, Warsi was on the money in the group fixture against the Delhi Wizards. He converted two penalty-corners with utmost ease in the 47th and 50th minutes.
Under the guidance of former India coach Jose Brasa, Warsi would look to make the most out of the exposure.
Short-corners are the aspect of the game which can easily change its complexion. Widely regarded as the successor of Pakistan’s drag-flick ace, Sohail Abbas, Warsi was all praise for the player with the fastest (145 km/h) drag-flick in the world - Sandeep Singh.
“Sandeep is a very good friend of mine. I personally feel that he is the best drag-flicker around. He put up a great show in the Olympic qualifiers. It will be good to see him perform in the Olympics,” he said.