ISLAMABAD - Pakistan No 1 tennis player Aqeel Khan is willing to provide country raw talent and help Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) finding the talent at grass-root level and groom them at national level.
Talking to TheNation on Wednesday, Aqeel said that despite several requests to the authorities concerned for acquiring a piece of land in Karachi to set up a tennis academy, no one was ready to pay heed to his requests.
“There is much talent available in the country but the only thing we lack behind is providing them the right platform to utilize their services properly. I have the honour of retaining the top position for the longest period as before me Hameed, Rasheed, Khaliq and others were keep on changing the positions. I am very concerned about the shortage of players and don't see any contender who could replace me in near future,” he claimed.
Though the PTF held different events throughout the year but those were not enough for the players to run even their own expenses instead of thinking of providing bread and butter to their families. Some private clubs and NGOs also arranged different tournaments but they too were not enough to bear ever rising expenditures, he said. “Different PTF presidents promised the top players to provide them reasonable amount to have international exposure and represent the country in international events but no promise was fulfilled yet. I am appearing in national and international level events and bringing laurels for the country but I even have no personal home as how can it be possible for other upcoming players to meet the both ends,” he said.
Aqeel said that the time is ripe for the federation to find and groom new talent on war footings as there is little time left for the PTF to replace top players with the new ones. There are a few players who could serve the country in the years to come but they need proper training and coaching, he added.
He lauded Kaleem Imam's efforts for providing jobs to the players in different departments and holding training camps in Quetta, Peshawar, Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. But he said it was not enough for the star players as they were leaving the country to secure their future and the federation must act in the best interest of the country and create opportunities for them so that they may focus on their tennis staying in the country. “I am looking forward for a suitable opportunity as I am fast reaching at the twilight of my career and I feel my playing days are numbered but I will prefer to remain in the country to pay back to it as I earned name and fame because of my beloved country,” he added. He sought PTF help in setting up academy to concentrate on producing the world class players. “I hope the PTF will try to convince International Tennis Federation (ITF) to allocate Davis Cup and other international events to Pakistan as this will help the country in finding and attracting youngsters to join tennis,” Aqeel said.