Rotten at the top

May 12, 2024

The leadership of our sports federations and associations is self serving. We must carry out reforms urgently to improve our performance at the international level

Rotten at the top

Pakistan’s sports scenario is a reflection of the country’s politics. Here we see no laws, regulations and we have seen here might is always right. We favour coaches who don’t have credentials and we don’t send those coaches abroad with the athletes they prepare despite the fact that they are more dedicated and have the ability to get the best out of them.

It’s a country where an athlete is developed by one coach and when the athlete starts delivering on the international circuit we give him to such a coach who we favour due to strong association with him. This is called like and dislike and it has destroyed our sports.

We see this in several disciplines. I have seen federations whose top officials dislike the athletes of a particular province because of their differences with the officials of the relevant provincial association. And even some of the top level athletes of that province are also not sent for the Olympics on wild card. When will we correct ourselves?

Even recently a highly respectable department did not call its seasoned coach to handle the team in the National Football Challenge Cup and as a result the team lost in the quarter-finals. Why do we do this? We do this to hurt our own teams and our own sports.

If we don’t follow merit then we will not be able to develop our sports. The entire world has changed. The world applies different strategies to develop their sports and we have been involved in ugly politics. We are attached with the sports federations and associations because we benefit from them.

Do federations act as per regulations when the state offers them camps? I don’t think the rules are fully followed.

Those coaches who prepare athletes in Pakistan during training camps should go on foreign tours with their athletes.

It is ridiculous to oblige outsiders by sidelining the actual coaches and this is the main reason that we are unable to pull off the desired results on the international circuit.

We are so stupid that we don’t know about regulations of the Olympics Qualifiers and write letters to an athlete asking him whether he has qualified. We don’t deserve to govern our sports.

Our approach is too narrow and we are adept in leg-pulling. It’s our habit to reap the benefits of the services rendered by someone else. The boss culture in our sports system has destroyed our entire sports.

We don’t respect athletes but we bully them and consider them as stupid.

We take our breakfast, lunch, take tea several times a day with biscuits and even take some food to our homes in the evening from the offices specified for federations and sports governing bodies. We enjoy these facilities being managed through state funding or international bodies funding. What have we given to the country in terms of world beaters? We have produced none during the last few decades.

Arshad Nadeem, the javelin thrower, is the only athlete who has achieved global distinction these days. He was prepared for eight years by a sincere coach Fayyaz Hussain Bukhari who also guided him to the Tokyo Olympics. But when Arshad finished fifth in the Olympics Bukhari was sacked as his coach due to reasons best known to the federation.

The IPC minister Ahsan Iqbal should ask the Athletics Federation of Pakistan (AFP) why it sacked Bukhari despite his splendid services leading to the Tokyo Olympics. He is now preparing Yasir Sultan for the Olympics Qualifiers.

The other day I saw a picture taken at the country’s major sports governing body’s office. And I was surprised that a coach with massive achievements was hardly seen in it as he had been drafted at the back of the group and hardly his face was seen. It means we don’t care for those who serve the country’s sports in real sense. We are adept in getting their credit. It’s shameful. We only back hypocrites.

One serious thing which I have noticed is that like political parties’ top leadership, our sports federations and associations office bearers waste no time in bringing their sons, wives and other relatives to the helm. The government should frame such rules in which relatives will not serve in a single federation and association.

The state must ensure federations and associations start their operations on professional footings.

Some federations send their teams abroad without informing the media and even elections of some associations and federations are held secretly.

No media is invited because they know that they will be exposed. Some federations even don’t reply to journalists’ queries and it is ridiculous.

Federations and associations are not their property and they are accountable for what they do and what they don’t do.

We have no values system and we have given freedom to our sports governing bodies and this trend has destroyed the sports generally.

There should be accountability at every step. We drop our top players without reasons and destroy their careers. Silently we have destroyed the careers of so many athletes.

During trials we back those athletes who have already represented Pakistan and when a youngster is seen offering top resistance against the country’s premier player he is discouraged.

I have seen this and it is painful.

As a sports nation we have failed to deliver. Although there is a huge overhaul needed in the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB), we should also reform our federations, provincial associations and even the Olympic bodies.

These things can be corrected through tough decisions. The steps, if taken, may invite big issues, but eventually all issues will end, if we stand up to reform the sports culture and system.

Rotten at the top