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October 20, 2016



Pirzada aims to build sports university

Pirzada aims to build sports university

Federal minister also plans to convert hockey federation into a corporate body

KARACHI: Not satisfied with his achievements so far, the federal minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC) Riaz Hussain Pirzada said on Wednesday that he would like to see a few things done in the remaining time to boost the country’s sports in the long run.

“Unless you do something new you cannot claim to have done a great job,” Pirzada told ‘The News’ in a detailed interview from Islamabad. “What I want to do in the remaining one-and-a-half years is to found a sports university and convert Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) into a corporate body after taking the Prime Minister, who is the patron of the federation, into confidence.

“The Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif has started taking interest in sports. Converting the PHF to Pakistan Hockey Board (PHB) would help hockey generate its own revenues which is direly needed for uplifting the game,” Pirzada said.

However, he was quick to add that before attracting sponsorship Pakistan would need to raise its standard in hockey in which the country once had a great say in international circuit.

“We have focused on hockey and have been extending the PHF financial assistance. The players, particularly youngsters, have shown some resolve and we hope we will progress in this sport once again,” the minister said.

He praised the PHF secretary Shehbaz Ahmed for the way he has been dealing with the sport. “Shehbaz is doing a good job. I have advised him to provide maximum exposure to the players, which is the only way to progress,” he said.

Pirzada wants to meet the PM in near future to talk about his plans.

He said the university would produce professionals who would ensure bright sports future for Pakistan.

“We have worked a lot on the project and soon the university will be launched. The next government will have to build on what we do so that the desired results are achieved,” the minister said.

Pirzada said that countries like Australia, Germany and Cuba had such universities which had been producing sports specialists.

The minister said that his ministry would take keen interest in the remaining one-and-a-half years to bring in maximum foreign nations as the incidents of terrorism have decreased a lot.

“Yesterday, I opened an international badminton event in Islamabad in which many foreign nations are featuring. The foreigners are now convinced that the security environment in Pakistan has improved a great deal,” the minister said.

“When England posted 444 in a one-day game against Pakistan at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, the PM was unhappy and asked me what the team was doing. He was watching the game. It’s good that the team is now performing well,” Pirzada said.

The minister said that the IPC ministry held Inter-Provincial Games recently and plans to hold a couple of more such youth events so that talent could be hunted for future.

The minister said that for the preparation of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics the government had asked the federations to submit their plans and their coaching and funding requirements.

“We know that we have a few potentially glorious players in a few disciplines who can qualify for Tokyo 2020. The government will adequately support those federations whose players can qualify for the Tokyo Games,” Pirzada added.

The minister said that the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) had decided to convene a meeting of the federations and experts in near future to discuss various aspects of sports development in Pakistan.

“The meeting will probably be convened in Islamabad next week,” he disclosed.

After Pakistan’s symbolic participation in this year’s Rio Olympics the PSB announced that a meeting would be convened soon.

The minister admitted that his ministry did not do much for enhancing infrastructure. “You know we are over-staffed and I admit we have no right person for the right job. We did not do anything praiseworthy for infrastructure development and tried only to maintain the available infrastructure,” he said.

“But one thing we have done is to abolish all the previous rent system and have ensured optimum utilisation of the facilities we have,” he said.

He said Pakistan Sports Complex Islamabad required upgradation. “There is a great need to expand the facilities at the centre,” he said.

The minister said that at the moment nothing could be done about Pakistan’s football because cases were being heard by courts.

“We have asked FIFA to come and hold elections. I hope for quick resolution of the dispute as it has damaged the game greatly,” Pirzada said.

He hailed both Pakistan Olympic Association’s (POA) chief Lt Gen (retd) Arif Hasan and president of Athletics Federation of Pakistan (AFP) Major Gen (retd) Akram Sahi. “I think both are now doing well. Sahi has also started contributing which is a positive sign. I ask all of them to come forward and run the sports jointly,” the minister said.