Hockey: Contributors to clubs but not country

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The Independent Online
Hockey was once synonymous with India and Pakistan as the two countries established themselves as the game's world leaders with an unbroken series of nine Olympic wins from 1928, so it would be reasonable to expect that British national sides wou ld now be bursting with players of Asian descent.

Not so. While there have been some exceptional players, surprisingly few have broken through. Asian players have, however, done much to enhance the British domestic club scene.

Kulbir Bhaura, who arrived from the Punjab at the age of 13 in 1978 and became Britain's most capped foreign-born player with 145 international appearances, pinpointed two problems. "I do not feel that they have the same dedication as we had," he said, adding: "Asian parents want their kids educated to a high standard to go into the professions and sport has a very secondary position."

There are, in addition, possibly two more factors helping to minimise motivation. The poor example of India and Pakistan, who finished in bottom places in the London World Cup in 1986, and the fact that there are far more social distractions in England than on the subcontinent.

Gavin Featherstone, the Oxford University and South Africa coach, feels the problem may be altogether more prosaic. "They are usually attacking players and English hockey does not accommodate attacking hockey."