Asian Hockey Federation (ASHF), the governing body for affiliates from the Asian continent, has approximately 30 affiliates. By virtue of being the governing body, the ASHF President gets the right to sit on the Board of International Hockey Federation (FIH). Effectively providing a voice for Asia. Is that enough?
Is Asian hockey a force to be reckoned with in world hockey? From a game point of view Asian countries have lost out and only South Korea is in the top 5 in the world ranking. If we take top 10, Pakistan and India joins the ranks. Effectively, it does not speak much of Asian hockey. Administratively, only 1 Asian was elected to the Executive Board of FIH and no Asians were given the honour and privilege to Chair any of the 12 Committees formed by FIH. If there is any "silver lining", it is probably that Asia is given the opportunity to organise the Junior and Senior World Cups in 2009 and 2010 respectively. Maybe Asians have become great Organiser's.
This state of affairs relating to Asian hockey is best manifested in the events leading to the Asia Cup. Originally, Dubai was the site for the Asia Cup but on the 11th hour they withdrew and Malaysia had to salvage the situation. One of the participating countries namely Oman withdrew and Sri Lanka came as a replacement. Of late Sri Lanka also pulled out and now only 7 teams are participating.
It is sad as there about 30 affiliates in ASHF and why only 23% of them are prepared to take part in the tournament. Some notable names like Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau, Iran, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Chinese Taipei are missing. Is it because the game of field hockey is a "dying game" in these countries and that is why they are unable to put up a team? If so, the scenario for Asian hockey is not looking good. If it is for financial reasons, then ASHF should have done something to ensure of their participation.
Poor participation in Asia Cup, a premier Asian tournament is a reflection that all is not well in Asian hockey. Something must be done and speedily. Failing which, hockey in Asia shall only be played by a few selected countries and even than by a few people. The game has become expensive as everything related to it is out of the reach of the bulk of the people in various of the developing and poor countries. Further hockey does help the poor player to get out of the bondage of poverty like football or cricket. So why be a good hockey player for the poor? As for the rich they have better games like tennis, golf and the likes to keep themselves in sporting spirit.
This is what hockey is fighting against and I think no one is seriously looking at addressing the issues. Therefore, with time hockey may find its demise as a popular game in Asia while other sports may fill the vacuum left by hockey. Maybe the poor participation in Asia Cup is the symptoms of what may happen to hockey in the future in Asia.