If one knows how to turn one’s adversities into opportunities, then sky’s the limit...
The paralympian, Haider Ali, secured a gold medal in discus throw which is no mean feat by any stretch of the imagination. That just gives you an idea of the talent we have in this country that is not being exploited. If Ali, despite all the setbacks, can achieve such an accolade and make his country proud, imagine what other differently abled and able-bodied individuals would be capable of doing if they were only given the right training and facilities. According to Ali, sports really helped strengthen him mentally and emotionally. By his own admission, he adored sports and would often bunk classes to indulge his passion for sports. Just as Muniba Mazari said in one of her motivational talks, if you know how to turn your adversities into opportunities, then sky’s the limit.
Ali is a shining example of the new Pakistan which Prime Minister Imran Khan is bent on creating. We need individuals like this athlete to strengthen our resilience and reinforce our faith in the people of this country. Unfortunately, we are inundated with so much bad news on a daily basis that we have a pessimistic outlook on life. The achievements and accomplishments of this country and its citizens are rarely celebrated or talked about because misery loves company and apparently, good news does not sell.
Pakistan did not secure a gold medal in the 2021 Olympic games, which makes this achievement even more significant. Few people seem to realise how important being a sportsman is for the physical, emotional and mental well-being of an individual. We definitely need to work on developing the sports and training facilities in this country in order to pave the way for our future Olympians and Paralympians. Funds and resources should be allocated for their training and development and those who qualify should be sent abroad to avail the best possible facilities. Prime Minister Khan attributes his fame and standing today to cricket as that became his identity at an early stage in his career. He was catapulted to international fame and glory and had the world at his feet. According to him sports teach you never to give up.
For the differently abled, sports can play a massive role in their physical, emotional and psychological well-being; inculcating important attributes like perseverance, grit and determination in them. Sports scholarships should be introduced and a quota reserved for students who qualify on the basis of sports. Aitchison College, our premier’s alma mater, should be persuaded by the government to allocate seats for sports scholarships. Aitchison has the resources and the facilities required to enable the less privileged and those less fortunate to train under the best coaches available and providing them the latest training equipment they need. In fact, apart from a handful, this institution has failed to produce international sportsmen despite access to the funds and resources.
Haider Ali hails from Gujranwala and Arshad Nadeem – the javelin thrower representing Pakistan at the Olympics – hails from Mian Channu. It is surprising that small-towners are making their mark on the international arena in spite of the limited resources available to them. These two should be awarded merit scholarships and given the resources needed to hone and develop their skills. The government and private sponsors should see to it that more individuals who display talent in sports are sent overseas to train.
For the rest of us, let us cultivate a more positive outlook on life and rather than constantly criticising our country, try and celebrate the achievements of its citizens so that more and more individuals are encouraged to take up sports. Academics should be prioritised but sports should not be relegated to the back burner. Physical and mental health go hand in hand and if sports and academics are given equal importance, Pakistan will produce more athletes and sportsmen.
The writer is an educationist and can be reached at email@example.com