Pak also needs a Charlesworth: Ghazanfar Ali
Pakistan hockey player Ghazanfar Ali feels that like India his country should also rope in somebody like Ric Charlesworth to lift its dipping standard in the sport.
Ali said India is lucky to have the legendary Australian as its Technical Advisor and should make full use of his knowledge and experience.
"Charlesworth is a big name in hockey, he is a legend. India is lucky to have him. They should listen to him but one should not expect any miracle to happen. He should be given 5-6 years for things to improve," said Ali, an England based player.
The midfielder said Pakistan need somebody like Charlesworth as a guiding force.
"Who does not want to have him! We would love to have him with us for six years. Pakistan needs a person like him and I am sure such a step would boost our hockey," Ali said.
Ali expressed surprise over India's slump in standard in world hockey considering the availability of its huge talent pool.
"I am surprised that India's standard has plummeted to this level. Because you have talented players. I am really thrilled to see so many youngsters coming out to train everyday here in Chandigarh. I was discussing this with Charlesworth. I really don't know," he said.
The Olympian hoped that if India showed any improvement under the guidance of Charlesworth, then Pakistan would also be inspired.
"In Pakistan the problem lies in the lack of facilities at grass-roots level. The youngsters are not keen to play hockey and cricket's influence is also a big factor. The back-up is lacking, the quality of players has gone down and you really don't have many choices. So we need to focus on opening academies and give proper facilities to players.
"It's sad that we finished seventh in the Champions Trophy. It has never happened that we were relegated from the tournament," he said.
Ali said Pakistan, who have already qualified for the Beijing Olympics, had it in them to finish inside the top six at the mega meet.
"A few youngsters are there in our team. In the run-up to the Olympics we will play some 25-30 matches in Europe and against other countries. That should set the tone for the big task ahead. We can finish among the top six and if we do really well we can even reach the semis," he said.
A graduate from the Punjab University in Pakistan, Ali broke into the Pakistan junior side in 1997 and got promoted to the senior team in 2000. Then he completed a physical instructor's diploma in England before moving his base to Manchester three years back. Now he plays for Manchester-based Bowden Club and works there as a fitness trainer.
Ali, however, always makes himself available for the duty of Pakistan and has played in a World Cup, an Olympics and several Champions Trophy tournaments.
The linkman is playing for the Chandigarh Dynamos in his debut year in the Premier Hockey League.
"Normally I play in Europe, so there is hardly any time. I came this time because of the break due to Christmas and New Year. I enjoyed playing in the tournament and would love to come back again," he said.