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January 5, 2020

Aamir Ghaffar keen to groom Pakistan badminton players

Sports

January 5, 2020

KARACHI: Former England badminton player and qualified coach Aamir Ghaffar wants to give such a badminton structure to Pakistan, the country of his origin, which he believes will help the state produce world beaters in the sport within a few years.

“I have achieved a lot as a player representing England for around a decade. Now I want to transfer my experience and knowledge to the Pakistani shuttlers and to groom them,” Aamir told ‘The News’ in an interview from Peshawar on Saturday. “And for this I will need a proper set-up and a high performance centre in Pakistan,” he added.

The 40-year-old former England No1 hails from Bannu, a former semi-tribal area now merged in KP. He migrated to England when he was a teenager. He has done level-2 coaching course from England and has been London’s coach as well. According to him, he has produced six England No1 shuttlers in the last five years.

Aamir wants to give the nation such a structure for badminton which could be adopted by other sports federations for promoting their respective disciplines as well. “Yes, it would be such a structure which could be followed by other sports bodies as well,” said Aamir, who was part of the silver medallist England team in the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games.

He is interested in opening a High Performance Centre in Islamabad and Performance Centres in all provinces. For these objectives, he wants government support. “I will definitely need the support of the federal and provincial governments,” said Aamir, who was once Khyber Pakhtunkhwa under-14 champion. His father Abdul Ghaffar was seven-time KP district champion. His brother Asad Ghaffar is also a shuttler.

“What I need is my own proper facility. I would love to work independently where no one interferes in the way I work. If all such requirements are met then I am quite confident that I will be able to change the whole complexion of Pakistan’s badminton,” said Aamir, a close friend of British boxer Amir Khan.

He said that he did not play for Pakistan because he had settled in England when he was very young. “You know I could easily force my way into England team which I did. Yes, I could easily play for Pakistan in Olympics but all that’s now past. I have now retired and want to serve Pakistan,” Aamir said.

He claimed that the Indian badminton authorities were interested in getting his services. “They have produced only one Olympic medal in the sport and that too in women’s category. But I prefer Pakistan, my own homeland. If I get such a facilitty of my own in KP, that will be extended to the rest of the country. The centres will also be connected with Pakistan’s schools and clubs in Europe,” he said.

Aamir, a Peshawar-born Middlesex star, played 39 times for England. He was the first Asian shuttler to pocket a National singles title when he beat Colin Haughton in 2004.

He retained his title the following year and was still good enough to reach the final in 2006 when he lost in three games to Nick Kidd and again this year when he went down in three games to Rajiv Ouseph.

During his career, he climbed to No 21 in the world and enjoyed big wins over China’s world No 3 Bao Chunlai and Korea’s 2004 Olympic silver medallist Shon Seung Mo. His best tournament performance on the world circuit was his Canadian Open title victory in 2005. He was the runner-up in a number of other tournaments on the world circuit.

When Aamir said goodbye to badminton in 2008, England head coach Ian Wright said, quoted by ‘The Telegraph’ on October 1, 2008, “We are sorry to lose Aamir as a player but the time was right for him. I am confident he will do well at Brunel and build up a strong cell of players.”