The non-availability of state funds has exposed weaknesses of the majority of our national sports federations. The 11-month cash-starved patch has left a question mark on the ability of the top officials of the federations. Most of them have badly failed to ensure full-fledged participation of their athletes in international events.
Unfortunately, the situation badly hit Olympic aspirants. The federations have also failed to find sponsors for their national championships. But heads of some federations have done really well to generate funds through corporate sector.
Pakistan Volleyball Federation (PVF), being led by Chaudhry Yaqoob, a former top police official, did a good job by arranging sponsorship to the tune of several million rupees to conduct National Championship recently in Lahore. The event was also telecast live by Geo Super.
Some other federations also held national events but most of them failed to involve corporate sector.
Some federations remained unable to run their affairs independently despite having influential heads. Either these heads have been unable to approach sponsors because they hope for state funding or they have become too complacent over the years and don’t work the way they should for the development of their sports disciplines.
“Our president is capable of generating funds but I don’t know why he is not doing that,” an official of a federation told me.
Pakistan Sports Board (PSB), on the one hand, has not been releasing funds to the federations and on the other hand it has started charging federations for utilising the halls at Pakistan Sports Complex, Islamabad, for national championships.
“I have received a bill from the PSB which I will have to pay as we have used the hall for the national event. In the past the Board did not charge us,” an official of a federation told me. He said that he spent over Rs700,000 on various matters of the federation from his own pocket and if the PSB kept withholding their grants, by June he would not be able to continue working.
This is a pathetic situation. It shows that people with strong political and financial backgrounds should be made heads of the federations.
I saw leading officials of a federation boasting during a press conference after elections a few years ago that they did not need state support as they could spend Rs20 million on their federation in a year from their own pockets. But today the performance of that federation is very poor as those business tycoons don’t want to spend a single penny from their own pocket.
Our federations will have to improve their governance if they want to perform. If the government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) stays for a few more years, the federations will face even tougher times.
There is no doubt that the state will keep financing Pakistan’s participation in South Asian Games, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, Olympics and beach events which fall under the domain of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) but the federations will have to meet their other expenses themselves.
Due to financial issues, federations cannot even hire foreign coaches whom they direly need. Federations need strong marketing departments. This will help them involve not only corporate sector in organising various events and sending athletes abroad for featuring in competitions but it will also help market their leading athletes.
Our federations have been unable to market the country’s leading players such as wrestler Mohammad Inam, weightlifters Nooh Dastgir Butt, Talha Talib, Olympian judoka Shah Hussain Shah, karateka Saadi Abbas and javelin thrower Arshad Nadeem. Had these athletes been in any other country they would have major sponsors. Surprisingly these athletes have been struggling for getting sponsors for their Olympics bids.
Karateka Saadi, who lives in Dubai, has been doing a wonderful job by managing his participation in Olympic qualifiers. He also availed himself of the IOC scholarship which had been managed for him by the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA).
The POA chief Lt Gen (retd) Arif Hasan has also managed a sponsor (Indus Motors) for him and it is expected that the sponsor would back Saadi in his remaining Olympic journey.
Some of our federations cannot even maintain their websites which are a vital tool in today’s world.
“We have a website but we cannot maintain due to lack of money,” an official of a federation told me.
Federations should know if they want to survive and keep their disciplines growing they will have to modify their methods of working. Young, highly educated people with knowledge of sports management and sports sciences, are direly needed in federations. I have the experience of reporting the activities of around 30 federations. Some of them don’t even want to remain in media. Some even don’t share with media important results. The actual issue is that they are not working the way they should and so they avoid media involvement.
State funding is important but it is not enough for achieving high goals. There remains the need for a massive input by the corporate sector.
Some federations say that there are no sponsors as everyone in the corporate sector wants to back only cricket. Cricket, no doubt, has its status and pulls corporate sector but federations should keep trying. I believe that they will succeed. I have been seeing the working of Pakistan Taekwondo Federation (PTF) over the years. It has been successful in involving some huge sponsors.
The same federation has sent several fighters for featuring in international events during the last few months through corporate support.
The federations lack skilled manpower. Only the secretary is seen everywhere. He may not be conversant in marketing techniques. A strong and reliable link is needed between federations and corporate sector for financial dealing. We have seen in the past that some federations lost their trust and corporate sector no longer backs them. This is the basics of marketing.