LAHORE-Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) on Friday awarded cash prizes to the 15-member Pakistan handball team for winning gold medal in the 13th South Asian Games in Nepal from December 1-10, 2019.

Talking to The Nation, PSB Director Media Muhammad Azam Dar said: “Pakistan handball team had won the gold medal by beating India in men’s team event. The award receiving players were Muhammad Uzair Atif (Captain), Asif Ali, Muhammad Shahid Bashir, Asim Saeed, Imran Khan, Muazamal Hussain, Muaaz Ali, Muhammad Zubair, Usman Shoukat, Hazrat Hussain, Umar Hussain, Asif Hayat, Naveed-ur-Rehman, Mobeen Ashraf and Nasir Hussain.

“Due to prevailing situation of Covid-19 and safety measures, the awards were distributed by IPC Ministry Parliamentary Secretary Saima Nadeem and Secretary Muhammad Ali Shahzada in three different sessions in a simple but impressive ceremony at Ministry of IPC. As per approved cash award policy, each member of the team received Rs 500,000 as total Rs 7.50 million were awarded to them,” he added. Other notables present on the occasion were Sr Joint Secretary Syed Khalid Ali Raza Gardezi, Pakistan Handball Federation (PHF) Secretary Javed Iqbal Gill and PSB Deputy DG M Azam Dar.

On behalf of IPC Minister Dr Fehmida Mirza, IPC Ministry Parliamentary Saima Nadeem and Secretary M Ali Shahzada congratulated the winning team members and Pakistan Handball Federation on winning the gold medal. The Parliamentary Secretary appreciated the players for their untiring efforts especially beating India in the final to emerge as champions of South Asian Games. She added that the team not only made them proud but also to the entire nation and hoped that it will continue to earn more laurels in other mega international events.

IPC Secretary Ali Shahzada said Dr Fehmida Mirza had planned to arrange a graceful ceremony by inviting the Prime Minister as ‘chief guest’ with the aim of introducing the gold medalists with the PM, who may inspire and encourage the youngsters with his great sports vision. “Unfortunately, Covid-19 did not allow hosting a grand ceremony in a befitting manner. For the reason and avoid any delay, awards are being distributed in small batches. Due to other commitments of urgent nature, the IPC Minister could not attend the ceremony.”

He advised the players to maintain modesty and high standards in life making them role models for their joiners and others who intend to choose sports as their profession. He also emphasised that players should continue their struggle to pursue their set goals in life ahead.

Speaking on the occasion, PHF Secretary Javed Iqbal Gill thanked IPC Minister Dr Fehmida Mirza and IPC Secretary Ali Shahzada for encouraging the players by awarding cash prizes, which meant a lot for the players especially at this critical time of need. He also highlighted the past performance of national handball team in the SA Games and proudly stated that the handball team never returned back from Asian Beach Games without medal.

The PHF secretary said that like federal government, the provincial governments should also take responsibility and not only promote sports at grassroots level but also find, groom and support the young talent, who, if trained and facilitated the best, are capable enough to win laurels for the country across the globe.