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August 19, 2019

Preparation for 13th South Asian Games: State unlikely to sponsor camps until after National Games


August 19, 2019

KARACHI: The state is unlikely to sponsor preparatory camps for the 13th South Asian Games until the 33rd National Games which are slated to be held in Peshawar from October 26 to November 1.

According to a well-placed source in the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB), the Board has no money in its kitty, adding, the tenure of the Board’s ExCo and Board had already expired.

The source, well aware of the Board’s affairs, was quick to add that the government has also not released funds for the first quarter. “The Board has only received amount for just one month in the first quarter of the current financial year which is not sufficient,” the source said.

It was also learnt that there was a chance that immediately after the National Games, the state would sponsor camps for South Asian Games until the contingent’s departure for featuring in the biennial event.

The 13th South Asian Games are slated to be hosted by Nepal in Kathmandu and Pokhara from December 1-10. He further added that there was also a possibility that the state might not sponsor a full-fledged contingent like it used to in the past.

“There are fears that the state might not back the full-fledged contingent. Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) and national federations might have to cover the expenditure of the remaining contingent if any such situation emerges,” he said.

The source said that sports is a devolved subject under the 18th constitutional amendment. “The provincial governments are responsible to promote sports at grass-root level. Federal government has a limited role now. National Sports Federations (NFs) are independent and elected bodies. They are required to generate funds to execute their sports programmes,” he said. “Even then you know PSB is sponsoring camp of volleyball and Arshad (athletics).”

“In such situation, it is the responsibility of the federations to think about preparations of their own players for the biennial spectacle in Nepal,” he said. However, the source was quick to add that if the Board, in the meanwhile, got grant, then camps could be initiated.

He also informed that the new Board was on the card. “It is in the implementation stage,” the source said. Other nations have already started preparing for SAG. Pakistan seems in deep trouble as federations claim that they have nothing in their kitty and cannot hold camps.

National Games seem to be blessing in disguise for elite athletes as they are being prepared by their own departments for the biennial domestic spectacle which will also help them perform in the South Asian Games.

In the last South Asian Games held in India in 2016, Pakistan finished third with 12 gold medals, a poor performance from the nation which in the past used to finish as runners-up behind India. If sufficient camps were not given to elite athletes Pakistan may face a disaster in Nepal as other nations of the region have planned solidly for preparing their athletes.

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