ISLAMABAD - Pakistan players continued to struggle hard in 2013 to earn good name and fame for the country at international level with their individual or collective efforts and many succeeded in their endevours despite very less facilities as compare to other sports playing nations players who have been enjoying all modern facilities along with international level coaches.
Though the tussle between the two Pakistan Olympic Associations (POAs) deprived many to feature in international events, yet few managed to appear in mega world events and proved their mettle in their respective sports fields and won laurels for the country.
Pakistan snooker remained on a high during year 2013, as M Asif, former world amateur snooker champion, added another feather to his already decorated cap by winning the Asian snooker title in Doha, although he failed to defend his world title in Latvia.
But Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) never bothered to pay the long overdue reward of Asif which he owed by winning the world title. Despite running from pillar to post to get his reward released, Asif was kept at bay. Even Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif didn't honour his words of awarding cash prize of Rs 2.5 million which he announced for the champion on winning the coveted title. Asif was due to be paid Rs 10 million as per sports policy of winning world title and Rs 5 million for winning Asian gold, but only the amount of Rs 1.5 million was given to him, which was announced by the ex-Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf.
Asif and M Sajjad played well during the World Cup in Latvia. Though Sajjad struggled hard and reached semi-finals after defeating world’s top cueists yet he and Asif were given rough treatment by the PSB.
The government has enough money to distribute among cricket and hockey players, but they don't even have few words of appreciation for other sporting icons of the country, so awarding cash incentives is a far cry.
The Pakistan Billiard and Snooker Association (PBSA) which is revolving around few persons in Karachi only, never bothered to take others onboard and look busy in personal projection. The PSBA takes away majority of winning purse of the players in the name of expenditures. Pakistani cueists won more than Rs 1.2 million as winning bonus in the recently-concluded event in the UAE, but the players were given only Rs 150,000, while rest of the amount was grabbed by the PBSA which is a grave injustice to the players. The federation must raise money from other sources, rather than relying on players’ purse.
Another example of government and the PSB's sheer negligence is Sadi Abbas, who did wonders for the country by winning gold medal in karate even, but no one bothered to even say a few words of appreciation to him which forced the shinning lad to think seriously about turning his back in future events to represent Pakistan in international events and turn professional. It will be a huge loss to the country, if he turns his words into reality.
Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif should take notice of the PSB's continuous negligence of honoring the favorite sons of the soil and invite Asif, Sadi and others over a cup of tea and assure them that the country needs them and their unmatched achievements are rated very highly.
Pakistan has tremendous potential in almost all the sporting fields, the only thing which the so-called sports lovers need is to take off some time from their otherwise busy schedule and try to address genuine concerns of the athletes. It will send a very positive signal to sportsmen of the country and encourage them to try to win laurels for their beloved country at international level.
It was a very positive and highly appreciable gesture of Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif, who invited Sadi Abbas and honoured him with cash prize. Other provinces should also follow this leading example and also take such issues to the government, as it is their moral and official duty and the government’s as well to look after the favorite sons and daughters of the soil, who earn laurels for the country at international forum.
PHYSICALLY HANDICAPPED PLAYERS
The year 2013 was arguably the worst year for the handicapped cricketers of the country, as the infighting in the Pakistan Cricket Association for Physically Handicapped (PCAPH) cost them dearly while the officials kept on enjoying perks and privileges unabated.
The PCAPH, formed way back in 2006 with a purpose to promote cricket among handicapped players, failed to even get minor recognition till June 2012 but a group of Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) led by Nasir Mehmood Chaudhry put a new life in it as four international series were played along with one national tri-angular series while with the personal efforts of Nasir Ch, international player Irfan Bhatti was hired to coach the handicapped players. The results were more than expectations as the team, which was beaten by the visiting Indian side previously, bounced back in style and won the very next series against Afghanistan, then the same team went to tour India and defeated Indian counterparts in both ODIs and Twenty20 International, and then again defeated Indian visiting team on World Disabled Day match.
But few persons started using the platform for vested interests, which led to the split in the association. Nasir Ch along with Sheikh Abdul Waheed, Saeed Ahmed Bhatti, Naveed Malik, M Ashfaq Chatha and Akhunzada Faheem parted ways and departure of these persons spelt disaster for the handicapped players, as during the entire 2013, they were given only one tour of India that too for just a single match and a so-called national championship was also organised.
The handicapped players, who had won series in India in 2012, are still waiting for their cash awards despite a lapse of more than 16 months. Physically Challenged Cricket Association of India (PCCAI) owe Indian rupees 160,000 to Pakistani handicapped players, but the PCAPH chairman and others are not ready to resolve that long-standing issue of grave importance.
The handicapped players had time and again requested to resolve the issue, but chairman Abbas Hashmi never bothered to resolve the issue. Fresh PCAPH elections were also conducted and a new body took over, but Hashmi denied the democratic change and now the struggle to control the PCAPH enters courts. Raja Imran Hussain is now the legal PCAPH chairman, but Hashmi and his two-companions are not ready to accept the results. Hashmi violated court orders and took the team to India for World Disabled Day match so a contempt of court case was also filed against him. The infighting in the PCAPH only destroyed the futures of handicapped players.
The players had requested Nasir Ch and other well-wishers to either took over the helm of affairs of the PCAPH or announce a new association where they could fulfill their dreams. They also requested Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif to take notice of the situation and help them in getting justice. Nasir Ch and his close aides have made it clear that they will announce a separate body sooner rather than later which is the only ray of hope for the handicapped players.
Pakistan Tenpin Bowling Federation (PTBF) took giant strides as far as promotion of bowling is concerned in the year 2013. Their biggest achievement is establishment of their own bowling club in Islamabad, which is in final stages and will be inaugurated with an international championship in March.
The PTBF organised four National Ranking Tournaments and also 2nd PTBF National Ranking Bowling Championship which carried record prize money of Rs one million which was never organised in the history of Pakistan tenpin bowling. PTBF secretary Ijazur Rehman spent millions of rupees from his own pocket to make the event success and did not take a single penny's help from Pakistan Sports Board (PSB). Due to non-release of funds, Pakistani bowlers were deprived of taking part in the prestigious 49th Qubica AMF World Cup held in Russia.
The PTBF not only promoted bowling among youth, but also involved women in this game as the 2nd PTBF Ranking event saw participation of more than 300 players in it while dumb and deaf male and female players were also given special entries in the event and were awarded with handsome cash prizes besides gold medals and trophies.
The Pakistan bowlers took part in a number of international events which include events in France, Italy, Kuwait and Korea while a female player was also sent to Russia and all was done on self-finance basis. Despite tendering a number of requests with the PSB to start joint venture with the PTBF, PSB Director General Syed Amir Hamza Gilani continued with his self-styled policies and instead of working for the promotion of sports in the country and giving country an opportunity to conduct international events in Pakistan, he did not assist the PTBF to fulfill its dreams.
PTBF secretary Ijaz requested prime minister, president, chief justice, CDA chairman and others to play their role and allocate a piece of land for the PTBF, where they could construct their own bowling alley and start international standard academy, where grassroots level players could come and learn this game from the world's top coaches. But all their efforts failed to bore fruit and at the end, Ijaz fulfilled his promise of constructing bowling club, as he leased out a private space of 28,000 square feet, where the club is in final stages. All the equipment has already arrived and it is expected that the club will help bowlers of twin-cities to start flourishing at national and international levels.
The PTBF also announced to establish world-class academy in Islamabad where grassroots level kids would get training under the watchful eyes of the world’s best coaches. The federation also working on establishing bowling clubs in Fata, KPK and other major cities of the country.
Like past, 2013 was a very successful year for the Pakistani special athletes as they managed to win a number of medals in the Special Games held in Australia. The government must laud the unmatched performance of the special persons, who, instead of sitting in a corner and depending on others, have taken giant strides and not only get a worldwide recognition for them but also for the country.
The government should keep a close check on the special persons’ contingent, as a number of blue-eyed persons managed to book a place in the touring party, who had nothing to do with sports, but want a joy ride so only the relevant persons should be allowed to travel with these athletes.