While Pakistan sports touch the rock bottom there is a silver lining that one can see in the form of new Pakistan Sports Board which, reports suggest, is being established. Unfortunately sports have never been a serious business in our country. The few successes we have achieved were the result of some outstanding performers that we got by chance, not through our system.
The ongoing One-day International series against Australia in the UAE is a practical manifestation of our chancy approach in the game, hoping against hope to explore a match winner before the start of World Cup in England this summer.
Cricket is the most popular sport of Pakistan, played in every nook and corner of the country. Thus, we get a broad base of cricketers who try hard to make it to the top through the available system of cricket which may be full of faults, but the reward and glamour of the sport is so promising that it motivates youngsters to take this chance and try their luck against all odds.
We need to transform this chance into a system, thus providing an even playing field to all promising and sports-loving youth of Pakistan to develop and showcase their talent. It will develop sports as a human-intensive industry in the country, offering respectable lifestyle and recognition to all those who want to choose sports as profession
The proposal to substitute Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) with Pakistan Sports Education Development & Infrastructure Board (PSEDIB) is a bright idea. It was great to learn that PSEDIB will follow the international best practices and UK sport structure will be followed.
One can very well understand why UK system has been preferred over other more holistic and advanced systems of the world, but there is nothing wrong in taking a start from somewhere.
The success of the proposed system and reforms will, however, directly hinge upon the composition of the Board of Governors, the Director General of the new Board and the gentleman in charge of sports in Higher Education Commission (HEC).
Having had interaction with foreign sports universities and experts on sports management and sports for development, I can safely say that no single foreign university or system offers a comprehensive solution to our complex sports issues.
International education is a big business. Foreign universities sell their programmes to third world countries and make good money without much benefit and transfer of real knowledge to the students. Thus it would be extremely important for the Board of Governors to find experienced and knowledgeable persons to be appointed in PSEDIB and HEC to lay solid foundations.
We should also remember that competitive sport is just the cherry on the top and developing a comprehensive sport culture in a country like Pakistan is an uphill task that requires knowledge, passion, and cross cutting experience of sports, education, corporate and management skills, coupled with international linkages for tapping financial and knowledge resources.
Pakistani youth possesses tremendous potential in the field of sports. But the system doesn’t help them much. A few lucky ones like the present Prime Minister come to the fore through other means. Imran Khan developed his cricket abilities while studying in UK and playing cricket in English counties. There are many Imran Khans, Waseem Akrams and Jahangir Khans hidden among us. It’s matter of putting the system in place where talent shall be the only determinant.
I am quite optimistic that by placing the right system of sports the government will provide an even playing field to the talented youth of Pakistan who would bring laurels for the country.