Let POA handle the country’s sports, says Sibtain

July 21, 2019

KARACHI: With the state making an effort to restructure Pakistan Sports Board , Pakistan Table Tennis Federation President SM Sibtain dropped a bombshell when he said that the PSB should be...

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KARACHI: With the state making an effort to restructure Pakistan Sports Board (PSB), Pakistan Table Tennis Federation (PTTF) President SM Sibtain dropped a bombshell when he said that the PSB should be ‘disbanded’ and Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) should handle the country’s sports.

“If sports has not been a federal subject any more as a result of the devolution then what is the meaning of restructuring of the PSB,” Sibtain told ‘The News’ in a interview.

“The board should be disbanded, its provincial units be handed over to the respective provinces and let the POA handle the country’s sports,” Sibtain said. Sibtain, also a former federal secretary, wondered why the Prime Minister Task Force on Sports led by Ehsan Mani did not look at the constitutional provisions of the sports after devolution before going for taking a step to restructuring the board. “The task force should have first checked whether law allows it to go for restructuring of the board and whether sport is a federal subject anymore. If sport is not a federal subject any more then how federal government can finance federations,” Sibtain pointed out.

“What is being done is totally wrong. It’s time to disband the PSB. The provinces should work for the sports development which I think they are doing except Sindh,” Sibtain said.

The board has recently funded a handful of federations. The PSB is still considered a key sports administrative body of the country despite the sports devolution.

Sibtain suggested that it would be a positive step if the building of the PSB in Islamabad be specified for establishing a university.

He said when it happens then the POA would have to come out of deep slumber and work harder for effectively running the country’s sports.

“In that case when the POA will become the major sports governing body then it will have to leave politics and focus on its real job,” he stressed.

“POA should not be involved in itself in politics of its units. I am very vocal about such thing. Federations are the real force. For game promotion POA has affiliated provincial Olympic associations but they have no role. The provincial Olympic associations should not meddle in the affairs of the federations,” Sibtain said.

“I am on record, telling this since long but unfortunately they don’t bring it on any agenda,” Sibtain said.

He said when the PSB would be disbanded then federations should manage their own financial affairs.

“It’s not difficult to manage finances if influential people especially from the corporate sector become heads of the federations,” he said.

“When I was in power I used to manage huge funds for table tennis. Why we don’t make heads of big companies and business tycoons of the country as presidents of various federations. It’s time to take a drastic step towards a right direction,” Sibtain conceded.

National federations are so much dependent on state funding that very few of them have been able to generate their own funds through assistance of the corporate sector.

Since the last Asian Games hosted by Indonesia last summer majority of the federations have failed to ensure their teams’ participation in major international events due to lack of state funding.

But Sibtain said once the federations would be told that they would manage their own business then they would be compelled to do so and carve out new ways and means to meet their pressing requirements.

“If any federation cannot handle its own finances and cannot involve corporate sector in its sport development then its officials should resign and leave the body to be run by strong and influential people,” Sibtain said.

The proposed Pakistan Sports Education Development and Infrastructure Board (PSEDIB) would also be responsible to run sports sciences and physical education programmes upto doctorate level after finalising the modalities and methodologies of the programme through the assistance of HEC and provincial governments.

Higher Education Commission (HEC) will have a solid role in sports development. The PSEDIB draft also mentions that sports under the 18th Amendment is a provincial subject. The PSEDIB would be responsible to plan, organise, implement sports policy and maintain government-funded sports infrastructure. It would also coordinate with the provincial sports boards and develop sports education through coordination with the provincial sports departments. The new board will also generate revenue through public-private partnership and other channels. The new board is yet to get legal cover.

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