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What a waste!

Over the years, Pakistan’s sports authorities have unfortunately been spending precious funds on projects that have little or no utility

What a waste!

n Pakistan when you govern sports you have to be very meticulous in deciding things as money is always a major issue. But sometimes we spend money lavishly on projects which have little worth.

In the name of international youth sports festivals, Punjab government was seen spending billions of rupees over the years. And now Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) has announced that it is going to hold the second edition of the Quaid-e-Azam Inter-Provincial Youth Games in Islamabad from December 25-29 for which a whopping fund of Rs130 million has been earmarked. Earlier, the target was Rs173 million but it has been slightly reduced.

I don’t think that the event has any utility. We saw the last edition yielded no result as hardly any athlete was identified who could become an asset for the country.

There are several flaws in the project being undertaken by the PSB. One of the major issues is that the associations which are the backbone of the country’s sports will have no leading role in forming the teams. The sports boards of the four provinces, Gilgit-Baltistan, Islamabad and FATA and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) will send their teams to feature in these Games. We have seen that these boards don’t have skilled manpower to keep transparency in the selection process. This will dent the PSB’s effort to provide the deserving youth an opportunity to showcase their talent.

How will the teams be prepared in the remaining few days? The organisers should have thought about it and should have announced the event much earlier. But it seems that the government is in a hurry and just wants to spend the money before its five-year tenure expires.

I have learnt that Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and interior minister Ahsan Iqbal have taken great interest in organising the spectacle in which according to the organizers 3700 athletes and officials will feature in 19 disciplines.

They will merely use the platform for political purposes. At the closing ceremony of the previous edition, a senior federal minister was all praise for the government and hardly spoke a word about sports.

It means we are not sincere with sports. Other nations have prioritised sports and reaped economic and health dividends.

The PSB has been created for providing funds and infrastructure to the federations and the federal government should learn how to utilise the Board for sports development. The Board is going to spend such a huge amount on the exercise at a time when Commonwealth Games and Asian Games are just around the corner.

It was necessary to prepare vigorously for these events. There was a need to send teams abroad for training or invite foreign teams to Pakistan for joint training sessions. But the government does not have money for that.

The way we are preparing for the Commonwealth Games and Asiad it is feared that Pakistan may face its worst ever fortunes in the events being hosted by Australia and Indonesia, respectively.

It has already been decided that Pakistan will feature in ten disciplines in the Commonwealth Games slated to be held in Gold Coast, Australia, from April 4-15. The Asian Games will be hosted by Indonesia at Palembang and Jakarta next summer. But we don’t have any plan.

Because of lack of funds, most of the federations preparing for the CWG have opted to restrict their athletes to train on home soil.

National wrestlers Mohammad Inam and Inayatullah were given only Rs500,000 each for winning gold medals in the World Beach Championships in Turkey recently.

They deserved more as it was a major event and was the first time that Pakistan achieved success at that level.

National athletes need equipment but for that there is no money. They need foreign coaches and quality training but there we are helpless.

We need to change our priorities. We have been witnessing that organisation of sports events has been made a business by some people. The people have been earning a lot through this although they keep saying that organising an event is very difficult. Undertaking difficult projects fetch them substantial money as very little amount is spent on the athletes. That is the main reason why Pakistan is facing decline in sports.

On the one hand, the Board is using such a huge amount on Inter-Provincial Youth Games and on the other hand only Rs64m has been kept for annual grants and Rs54m for special grants for national federations in the current financial year.

The total PSB budget is Rs997 million which does not meet the pressing demands of sports. There is a need to increase national sports budget manifold instead of allocating hefty amounts for such projects as Inter-Provincial Games which should be organised by the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA). Keeping in view the available facilities, if we want to progress in sports we will have to stick to the most important.

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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