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Set the priorities right

As expected Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) called off the so-called Inter-Provincial Games which exposed its ...

Set the priorities right

As expected Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) called off the so-called Inter-Provincial Games which exposed its weaknesses. Although hot weather was given as the reason for the decision, insiders say the Board had not made proper preparations for the spectacle which they were going to hold for the first time.

A sum of Rs500 million has been approved by the federal government for holding a national-level event for five years.

According to PSB, Rs100m was on Tuesday transferred to its account for the purpose. But the directives of the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to postpone the competitions dashed the Board’s hopes of conducting the spectacle. It would have been a real test of the organisational capability of the PSB whose sole responsibility is to provide funds and infrastructure to the national sports federations.

The Board had been reminded by the Olympic family during a meeting in Islamabad last month that holding a national-level event was not in its domain.

The Board could not satisfy the Pakistan Olympic Association’s (POA) president Lt Gen (retd) Arif Hasan with its plan for the competitions in which around 3000 athletes were to feature from June 9-12 at Pakistan Sports Complex in Islamabad.

The name of the event was also controversial as Inter-Provincial Games have already been held for a few times under the umbrella of the POA and the provincial Olympic associations.

The POA suggested to the Board in the meeting that instead of going for this event it should fund the Balochistan Olympic Association (BOA) which would be organising the Inter-Provincial Games in a few months time in Quetta.

Interestingly, the PSB convened a meeting of the federations and POA at a time when it had already decided to hold the slots in which besides the four provinces, Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), FATA and Islamabad were to take part.

After expressing their reservations, the Olympic family decided in the meeting to assist the PSB in holding the Games.

The Olympic family had to do so in order to avoid any conflict with the government. It was a good decision.

There is need to create harmony between the PSB and the POA as strong working relationship between the country’s two vital sports governing bodies will help promote sports.

The hostility between the two bodies during the last few years inflicted an unprecedented damage on sports.

There is a need to re-organise the PSB. After the devolution, it is absolutely necessary to define the functions of the PSB and the provinces which will now have to play a key role in sports development.

The government should take sports seriously. Sports have close link with economic development. We can even defeat terrorism through sports.

Pakistan-Zimbabwe cricket series in Lahore is a clear indication of how we can improve our image through international sports activities.

It’s a great achievement that we remained successful in holding the series in a befitting manner which will help Pakistan revive international sports activities.

The PSB should continue working as the facilitator which is its sole responsibility.

The government should facilitate its players and teams. It should indiscriminately fund the training programmes of various teams on foreign soil and provide infrastructure and equipment to the players preparing for national duty.

It is a pity that the government was unable to provide training opportunities on foreign soil to the national boxers who aim to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Pakistan karate team on Thursday was seen waiting in Lahore for the government’s grant which if released would enable them to leave for Iran for a two-week training ahead of the Asian Championships and Commonwealth Karate Championships to be held in Japan and India, respectively, in September.

The volleyball team needs funds for foreign training ahead of the Asian Championships to be hosted by Iran after Ramadan.

The government did not fund the national ju-jitsu team which had to go to India for the South Asian Championships in Bangalore. As only nine female players and one male official were issued visas, the federation eventually decided not to participate in it.

Star judo player Japan-based Shah Hussain needs to be facilitated because the 22-year-old is very close to making the cut for the Rio Olympics.

Our national game hockey deserves even more attention of the government.

The government should prioritise those few sports in which Pakistan can rise in future. The government should also take benefit of the MoUs it has signed with other countries relating to sports. China can contribute a lot to our sports development and the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who signed 51 MoUs with Chinese president in April, should also negotiate a productive deal with them which could benefit our sports. Pakistan’s ambassadors abroad should also play an active role for facilitating the athletes when they go there for training and competitions.

It’s time to take sports as an industry.

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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