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Ganjera looks to upgrade Pakistan Sports Complex

By Alam Zeb Safi
February 16, 2017

KARACHI: Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) Director General Akhtar Nawaz Ganjera on Wednesday said that they were trying to upgrade the Pakistan Sports Complex in Islamabad with the available resources and hoped that the venue would be well-prepared when Pakistan hosts the South Asian Games in future.

“We have a decade old infrastructure at our disposal at the Pakistan Sports Complex. We are trying to upgrade it with the passage of time. The main Hamidi Hall has been prepared well and we are going to lay roof of the other key hall for which Rs100m has already been approved, Ganjera told ‘The News’ in an interview from Islamabad.

“We have also written to the government for laying new athletics track which will cost us Rs40m to 50m or even more. If we are able to lay athletic track then we can host South Asian Games even after a few days,” Ganjera said.

Ganjera added that it was important to lay a new athletic track.

“It’s necessary because the existing track is around 40-years-old and has been badly impaired. The Athletics Federation of Pakistan’s (AFP) president Major Gen (retd) Akram Sahi has also told us that he is interested in holding Asian Athletics Championship in Islamabad. And for that we will need a new track. If we are able to lay a new track it would enable AFP to hold the continental event which will help Pakistan a lot,” Ganjera added.

In 2018, Nepal is scheduled to host the South Asian Games, after which it is the turn of Pakistan. Pakistan has already hosted South Asian Games in Islamabad twice. Last year at the same complex the PSB organised the First Quaid-e-Azam Inter-Provincial Games in which 2500 athletes from across the country had taken part.

And now the Board is preparing to host its second edition in the first week of April at the same complex in the federal capital.

“The proposed dates for the Inter-Provincial Games are the first week of April. But the dates are not yet final as from April 7-9,  the Davis Cup tie would be held and we are taking time before deciding the final dates,” Ganjera informed.

He said in the six-day event, athletes below 25 years of age would feature in 17 disciplines.

“Last year we had kept 13 disciplines but this time we have decided to make four more additions to the list because of a lot of pressure from the federations,” the official said.

“The players’ strength would be 3000 this time,” Ganjera added. However he was quick to add that the government has not yet released full amount to the Board for staging the competitions.

“We have been released only Rs52m, while the actual budget for the Games is Rs169m. I recently met federal minister Ahsan Iqbal and told him the whole story that we would need the whole amount well in time so that we could hold the spectacle,” Ganjera said.

However he was hopeful that the competitions would be marvelous.

“I confess that last time we made huge blunders. We know where we made mistakes and will not repeat them. After the second edition we will be in a much better position to stage any big competition like the South Asian Games,” Ganjera added.

He said that the players would not only be given daily allowances but they would also be provided with decent accommodation in the standard hotels of the federal capital.

When he was asked that Pakistan Olympic Association’s (POA) chief Lt Gen (retd) Arif Hasan recently criticised the PSB move to go for the Games which according to the NOC chief had no benefit, Ganjera said: “Anybody could tell me if there is no benefit of the Games then what is its disadvantage?”

“If people say that huge money is being spent on it. I would tell them that we are spending that money on players and no one else,” Ganjera said.

He also revealed that the Board had advised the provincial sports boards to also take input from their relevant provincial Olympic associations for forming the teams.

“The provincial Olympic associations can give their input but the teams would be from the provincial sports boards,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ganjera reiterated his commitment that Pakistan would field maximum contingent in the Islamic Games which would be held in the Azerbaijan’s capital Baku from May 12-22.

“A Rs52 million has already been approved for fielding the 200-member Pakistan’s contingent in the Baku spectacle. But we would like to send even more players,” he said. Pakistan would be featuring in 14 disciplines in the Islamic Games.