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November 12, 2019

Pak contingent size for SAG yet to be decided

November 12, 2019

PESHAWAR: The 13th South Asian Games are just 19 days away but Pakistan’s sports authorities are yet to decide about the strength of the national contingent.

‘The News’ has learnt through highly credible sources that so far no concrete development has been made regarding the strength of the contingent for the biennial event which Nepal will host from December 1-10 at its capital Kathmandu and Pokhara.

This correspondent on Monday learnt that Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) and POA were unlikely to meet during the 33rd National Games being held in Peshawar to finalise the matters regarding the South Asian Games in which Pakistan finished third, behind India and Sri Lanka, in the last edition held in India in 2016.

Sources said POA wanted to send a 424-member contingent to Nepal but the PSB wanted to send only a 200-member contingent.

The PSB’s ExCo has ceased to exist because the Board is going to be restructured in near future. Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC) Dr Fahmida Mirza can take decisions to ensure full-fledged participation of Pakistan in Nepal spectacle which would be challenging for national athletes because of their lack of preparations.

PSB used to get grant on quarterly basis but now it does take it on monthly basis. However, sources in the PSB revealed that tenders have already been made regarding Pakistan’s contingent travel to Nepal. The timing of travel of athletes is expected to be different, depending on their respective events.

The sources said that the final decision can be made any time in the next few days. They said that boarding fee was to be deposited with the organisers of the Games by November 15.

According to the sources, the organisers of SAG would only issue accreditation cards to Pakistan once the boarding fee was deposited.

The sources said that the POA wants to field a strong contingent in the SAG. But sources in the PSB said that the NOC should justify the strengths in various disciplines to the Board.

The sources said that the PSB Director General Amna Imran Khan, who is also the additional secretary of IPC, is not in touch with the POA.

This correspondent learnt that the POA wanted PSB to hold a minimum of six months training camps for the South Asian Games but because of financial issues nothing was done.

A source in the PSB told this correspondent that the camps would be held immediately after the 33rd National Games so that athletes could properly rest and recover under the vigilant eyes of their coaches.

This situation has baffled the country’s top players. “It’s unfortunate that we don’t know yet whether we will be able to feature in the South Asian Games,” a key player told ‘The News’ here during the National Games.

Some experts consider holding of National Games a blessing for the athletes who will compete in SAG because their departments imparted them solid training for months.

But some experts say that the narrow gap between National Games and South Asian Games would not help the players.