The Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) should hold camps at least of those disciplines in which national athletes can push for medals in this year’s Asian Games in China
The 19th Asian Games are just around the corner but nothing is being done by the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) regarding holding of camps. I wonder why the Board is acting so poorly this time. It is helping just a few federations of its choice and has ignored others, especially a few whose athletes can press for medals in the quadrennial extravaganza which China is going to host in Hangzhou from September 23 to October 8.
Pakistan’s prominent athletes ask me repeatedly when the camps for the Asian Games will be started. I have no answer. The Board should come up with a comprehensive strategy and should decide what it will do regarding the Asian Games preparations. Keeping quiet is just ridiculous on the part of the Board which must be the sole financier of the training camps when it comes to such Games.
Almost every federation has requested the Board to hold their camps but the Board has been unable to give them any green signal.
A couple of months ago a senior official of the PSB told me that the Board would soon hold a meeting with the POA to decide the matters relating to the Asian Games. But nothing has been done so far which is indeed high negligence on the part of the authorities in the Board and the IPC Ministry.
I always say that the Board should be made more powerful and its affairs should be entirely run by its Director General, not by the IPC minister, who is the constitutional president of the Board. If it is done the Board will not have to wait for the IPC minister’s or the IPC secretary’s nod for every decision. If the Board’s DG approves anything it should be final. It will help the country administer its sports effectively. If the PSB chief acts like a clerk as in the current set-up then we cannot bring any big change in our sports culture.
The Asian Games are not the only event for which Pakistan needs to prepare. There are Olympic Qualifiers also, and in some disciplines we can definitely press for the Olympics seats but there is no support from the Board.
The way the state deals with sports I think we can even miss the Olympics seat in judo in which we have featured in the last two Olympics. There is no camp at all of this discipline and due to lack of state support the relevant federation is unable to field its fighters in the Olympic Qualifiers any more.
Pakistan Judo Federation (PJF) has spent a huge fund of Rs6.8 million on fielding its fighters in four back-to-back Qualifiers and its officials say that they have no more money. It’s really a depressing situation.
The PSB stopped wrestling camp last month although Pakistan is set to feature in the Asian Championship in Astana next month. This has compelled the wrestlers to train in their cities on their own before they assemble for a few days in Gujranwala to undergo training together before leaving for the continental event. This is not the way sports should be dealt with. The Board should back wrestling which is a medal-winning sport.
The PSB has no funds for the federations on the one hand and on the other preparation is being made to form an Election Commission which will work under the Board’s ambit. It will hold the elections of the federations. My sources told me that huge perks and privileges will be given to the Election Commissioner and the commission’s other two members. The adjudicators will also draw huge privileges. This will put a lot of burden on the Board’s exchequer.
This will also create other issues. National federations, which are affiliated with the International Federations (IFs), have their own election mechanism and there is no need to form an election commission. I have learnt that at the PSB Board meeting which has been postponed and will be held now on April 3, some members will oppose this move regarding formation of Election Commission.
We should strengthen the Board so that it could finance federations, athletes, and hold camps and manage foreign tours for the athletes and manage foreign coaches which is its basic job.
But if it goes for such acts which are against international law the result will be disastrous.
The Board tells federations to seek sponsors and manage their activities. I tell the Board that it is not easy for every federation to attract sponsors. A few federations can do this but the majority of the federations cannot be run without state help.
At least the Board will need to finance federations fifty percent so that they could manage their affairs and ensure the presence of their players in international events.
Foreign tours expenses have doubled and I don’t think federations will be able to maintain their working tempo without state help. Yes, only state help is not enough and federations also will have to work diligently for creating some revenue through sponsorships.
Here we make excuses that Asian Games camps will be held after the 34th National Games slated to be held in May. We should not wait for that as elite camps for the quadrennial extravaganza in China are must at the earliest keeping in view the competitive nature of these Games. And just seven days before the National Games athletes can be released to their respective departments and units and it would not be an issue.
The PSB should take prompt action and hold camps at least of the most important disciplines in which national athletes can press for medals in the Asian Games. If we waste any more time then it will dent Pakistan’s medal chances in the continent’s major extravaganza where we already have been facing issues during the last few editions.