Last night provided hockey fans worldwide with one of the most entertaining games in field hockey in 2012. India and Pakistan duked it out for a nine goal fiesta, and Pakistan emerged deserving champions. They played brilliant hockey, came back from a 1-2 deficit and accelerated superbly in the second half to leave their Indian counterparts breathless. Great hockey all around, except for the fact that nobody outside the stadium got to watch the game! In this day and age of cable and satellite television, youtube, FaceTime and Vimeo, we find it baffling that the organizers of the tournament chose to forgot one some detail — putting a few cameras in the stadium!
The organizers in the city of Doha in Qatar did seem to be quite technologically backward from the start– the “official” website that provided regular updates was a hastily set up facebook page, with english of the poorest quality and updates that were late by about a day. Several requests from fans for a live broadcast of the finals were met with a response that said the organizers were trying their “level best” to provide television coverage. We are still waiting for an update.
If the Asian Hockey Federation (or whoever it is that was in charge of awarding Qatar the chance to host this tournament) is serious about allowing the sport of field hockey to compete with other sports of the 21st century, it’s time they woke up to the realities of this brave new world of technology. The FIH did an excellent job providing live internet broadcasts of the recent champions trophy games in Melbourne, but hockey boards should really have stricter rules about awarding tournaments to cities that are pretenders and not the real deal. And to think that the country of Qatar is supposed to host a soccer world cup in a few years? God help us all.
The real losers of this tournament then, were not India (though they could have avoided behaving like churlish school boys by not walking away from the game with three minutes to play — everyone has bad decisions come their way every now and then, and the great teams find classier ways to deal with them). The real losers of this tournament were the fans of field hockey that still found a way to follow their teams, scrounging around for bits of information on various websites and piecing together the results of every game, because the organizers couldn’t be bothered to. For those true field hockey fans out there, we salute you.