It’s time to take bold decisions

October 30, 2022

There is a need to do away with the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB). It is an inefficient and counter-productive body, says Aqil Shah

It’s time to take bold decisions

There are numerous question marks over the way Pakistan sports is being governed. Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) has miserably failed to do anything noteworthy for the development of sports in the country. Politics continues to destroy the country’s sports.

The PSB chief Col (retd) Asif Zaman was recently removed from his post, which was a political decision. Like other DGs, Zaman also lacked powers and he had numerous obstructions in his way and was unable to take any major decisions. The DG PSB should be the actual boss of the Board. He should not be a clerk. He should enjoy more powers which is the only way to take the right decisions at the right time.

Sports governance is not the job of the IPC and its minister and secretaries. They are not experts of sports and due to lack of proper knowledge they are unable to do anything noteworthy. I have seen so many ministers and secretaries who have failed to deliver.

Keeping in view this thing the DG PSB should be given proper powers. He should have the qualities of a top administrator. He should be a person who knows sports and its intricacies. But a question arises: should PSB stay there or should any other establishment take its place which could govern sports at the state level.

We have talked to Syed Aqil Shah, former Sports Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the country’s senior most sports personality and a former senator. He will tell you what is wrong with the country’s sports and what kind of step we should take in order to make things right.

“I think PSB should be abolished and a Sports Authority should be formed in its place which is the only way to bring an improvement in the country’s sports. I have seen this in so many countries,” Shah told ‘The News on Sunday’ (TNS) in an interview.

Shah was on a personal visit to Karachi a few days ago. “Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) should have enough representation in the sports authority. There should be one or two such representatives from the provinces who have served sports and have worked with the associations,” Shah said.

“The sports secretaries of all the federating units should be its members and the body should also have a federal minister, or more appropriately a special assistant to the Prime Minister on Sports and PM himself should be its patron.

The Special Assistant to the PM on Sports should run this authority as its head,” Shah said.

“If it happens, it will help improve coordination and solid decisions will easily be taken for the welfare of the athletes and betterment of sports in the country which has immense talent,” Shah said.

“There will also be a secretary of the authority and business tycoons will also be its members as sports cannot be run without sponsorship,” Shah said.

“I will further emphasise that the Special Assistant to the PM on Sports should be a man from sports and not from politics. Because he will have direct contact with the PM so things will be run smartly.

The authority will need a budget for it in order to run sports at the central level,” Shah said.

“There should be at least three national-level conferences so that experts could give their points of view before the authorities take the step to form a sports authority,” Shah said.

“I think sports should be kept away from the bureaucracy and should be left to those people who are adept in sports governance,” Shah said.

“But the POA’s role will have to be recognised. The job of the POA is to communicate with other nations, form and send contingent and prepare accreditation cards. We have to follow the Olympic Charter. There are some federations which don’t cooperate with the POA. The rule is that NOC will recognise those federations which are affiliated with the International Federations. And these federations will have to follow the Olympic charter and the constitution of the POA,” Shah said.

It’s time to take bold decisions

“The NOC suspended Athletics Federation of Pakistan (AFP) and Pakistan Cycling Federation (PCF) and formed management committees in their place. A person was made a member of the PSB Board who was suspended by the NOC,” Shah said.

Shah said that a nursery should be developed. “In the past I told POA to develop nurseries. Look, federations have three votes while provinces have one. I think there should be equal votes at least of these bodies as both are equally important,” he said.

Shah’s suggestions deserve attention. There is a need for a big change in the sports system. The PSB, in fact, has no utility after devolution. And a big issue is that its budget is hardly Rs1 billion and most of it is spent on pensions and salaries of its employees.

There is a clerk culture in the PSB. It lacks efficient individuals. It has badly failed to deliver. There is a lot of politics. It has always been at loggerheads with the NOC which is most destructive.

In the past I also gave a sports model, which was a viable system but Aqil Shah, who is also the chairman of Pakistan Wrestling Federation (PWF) and president of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Olympic Association, has also come out with a solid suggestion which can be refined if it is debated by the experts before making a final draft by the authorities concerned. Let’s take a bold step. It’s about time that we do it.

It’s time to take bold decisions