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May 5, 2017

PSB refuses to sponsor basketball teams for Islamic Games


May 5, 2017

KARACHI: Pakistan’s men and women basketball teams’ participation in the Islamic Games is in jeopardy as Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) has removed the discipline from the list of the disciplines which the state will sponsor.

A senior official of the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) Khalid Mehmood told ‘The News’ from Lahore on Thursday that the Board had decided not to sponsor basketball teams which had been training for the last three months.

Each team consists of four players and has one official. The teams are currently in Islamabad. They also trained on Thursday.

Khalid said that they would request the Board to accommodate these teams.

“We will request the PSB to accommodate the two basketball teams. It will be a real loss to the players if they fail to proceed to Baku. Their accreditation cards have already been made,” Khalid said.

He added that the Board had decided to sponsor a 189-member contingent. He added the POA would sponsor some of the contingent officials.

He said that the total contingent strength might reach 215. Khalid said that the Board also does not back a ten-member zurkhaneh squad and it would be financed by its international federation.

Pakistan Basketball Federation (PBF) secretary Khalid Bashir told this correspondent that he came to know only a few minutes ago about the matter and would write to the PSB on Friday (tomorrow).

“I don’t know why the PSB is not backing our team. If the Board had any grievances why had it sent our teams to India last year for the South Asian Games? And if it was not in a position to send our teams to Baku why were we told to hold camps,” Khalid said.

He said that the teams even practised at the Pakistan Sports Complex Islamabad on Thursday.

Khalid said their top priority would be to convince the PSB. “We will make our last-ditch effort and hopefully the state will sponsor our players,” Khalid said.  He said the teams had prepared very well and the tour would help the players get much-needed international exposure.

Last year Pakistan’s basketball teams were unlucky not to take part in the South Asian Games in India in spite of the fact that the outfits had reached India for the purpose. A parallel basketball association in India had got a stay order against the competitions which left Pakistan’s players utterly disappointed. The Green-shirts had entered international arena after years of wrangling at home between parallel bodies.

A couple of months ago a senior official of the PSB told this correspondent that they had asked the PBBF to meet some legal and constitutional requirements but the federation had not yet bothered to reply.

And the official did not seem happy with the federation which is recognised by the international basketball governing body (FIBA) and the POA.

Brig (retd) Rashid Malik, a former Pakistan captain, serves as president of the PBBF.

Meanwhile, it is highly likely that the accommodation fee would be transferred to the organisers of the Islamic Games on Friday (today).

“We are hopeful that the fund will be released tomorrow. We will try to transfer it either from the Board’s account directly or we will make it online from the POA’s account,” Khalid Mehmood said.

He was quick to add that the departure schedule of Pakistan’s handball team might be changed.

“The handball team was scheduled to fly out for Baku on Saturday. Now with the consultation of the president of Pakistan Handball Federation (PHF) we are trying to reschedule its departure and most probably the team will depart on May 8. They will start competing in the event from May 9 but I don’t think their initial match will be tough,” Khalid said.

He said that the POA would meet on Friday (today) with the officials of the federations in Lahore whose teams are set to depart for Baku.

“We will finalise contingent officials and discus some other matters in the meeting,” Khalid said.  Pakistan will feature in 15 disciplines in the competitions.

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