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Pakistan badminton’s sorry state

It is the responsibility of the game’s ruling body to get players’ issues resolved instead of criticising them. If players are not given financial relief they will not be able to focus on their game

Pakistan badminton’s sorry state

Pakistan’s badminton has hit a deep low. National players go abroad and return after falling at the first hurdle and that’s heart-wrenching. They will be sent to Australia next year for the Commonwealth Games and there too it is likely that they will not be able to offer any resistance.

A senior official of Pakistan Badminton Federation (PBF) told me the other day that Pakistan has hired the services of a Malaysian coach for six months through the assistance of Badminton Asia and he will come on November 6.

But rebuilding the badminton lot is not that easy as in the last several years, no positive work has been done on the sport, mainly due to infighting.

The services of a foreign coach will be needed at least for two years if the players are to perform in international circuit.

The current PBF, which is run by former international Wajid Ali Chaudhry with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa former information minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain of ANP as its president, does not seem to have taken fair decisions.

Last month, national players refused to attend a camp for an international event which Pakistan is going to host in Islamabad from November 9 because they did not want to be trained by “mediocre coaches”.

Liaquat Ali, who has retired from Sports Board Punjab (SBP) as a coach, and Nadeem Khan from Peshawar had been assigned the task of coaching the country’s top crop.

Liaquat is a former coach of PBF secretary Wajid Ali but he is not qualified enough to train the national lot. And Nadeem has only got a basic course of level-1.

I asked Wajid why he does not assign the task of coaching national lot to a couple of those coaches of Pakistan who have done level-II. He did not give me any satisfactory reply. He even lashed out at players and said they were not serious. He said that barring WAPDA’s players, the players work in educational institutions.

It is the responsibility of the PBF to get players issues resolved instead of criticising them. If players are not given financial relief they will not be able to focus on their game.

Some players have got jobs but most are unable to get promotion. And the PBF should work hard to convince more departments to give jobs to the leading national shuttlers.

Wajid feels proud that he is going to hold an international event for the second time. But such events will not boost the standard of Pakistan badminton unless solid steps are taken.

I remember when Doda Khan Bhutto was brought in as president of Pakistan Boxing Federation (PBF) he went on to organise Shaheed Benazir Bhutto International Boxing tournaments twice but it did not help Pakistan’s boxing.

The PBF should work on its youth and give maximum exposure to its budding lot. The club culture should be revived. Wajid blames the national sports policy. I know there are issues with the policy but the federation can promote its game if it works effectively. The badminton community remains divided. Unless the PBF takes steps to assemble all under a single platform it is impossible to develop badminton.

A unified and coordinated effort is required for the progress of any game and we see this throughout the world. I don’t know why in Pakistan’s sports, opposition is not tolerated. If you are not criticised, how will you reform yourself?

I think Wajid understands my point and will take steps to bring together all those who could contribute to the game’s development.

Ask international coach Raziuddin Ahmed and he will tell you some stories. “Badminton community is not satisfied by the statement of Wajid Ali regarding some departmental players who did not join the camp as they are doing part-time jobs. Actually, national shuttlers do not want to be trained by coaches Liaquat Ali and Nadeem Khan appointed by the PBF. They did BWF level-I basic course with other short courses and it does not meet criteria to train players at a high level,” Razi told ‘The News on Sunday’ (TNS).

“It is the right of the players to earn their bread and butter. They get a paltry amount from their departments as salaries and don’t have any financial support from the PBF. It is really hard to meet demands of the game in terms of sports gear, nutrition and other areas,” Razi pointed out.

“I think national players also feel disgraced when they lose in the first rounds in international competitions. The PBF does not have a solid training programme for them and that is why they are not willing to be trained by coaches with low credentials,” the coach said.

He suggested that all former national legends should be called to discuss how the sport could be developed. “The PBF’s affiliated departments must stand together. Railways once used to produce good players, organise DS Cup but we don’t see this contribution from them anymore. NBP, KRL, Army, WAPDA and other departments should play their due role,” he said. “Players with bogus age certificates should be stopped from entering the mainstream age-group competitions. These players rob others of their rights. Badminton is not limited to Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. It has become a normal practice to select players from these two provinces only. We have good players in Sindh also. The PBF should consider Blochistan, AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan for development programme as well,” Razi said.

“In 2010, I saw in Dhaka South Asian Games that Pakistan’s standard was not lower than India. Our players could compete against India’s top players effectively. But now there is a big gap,” Razi said.

Razi has done coaching courses from Austria, Denmark and England. He has done level-II from Badminton England and his level-III is in progress.

Alam Zeb Safi

Alam Zeb copy
The writer is a sports reporter at The News International. He may be reached at [email protected]

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