The PSB chief is confident that the new sports policy will rectify the system and will usher in a new era
The other day I had a meeting with the Director General of Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) Col (retd) Mohammad Asif Zaman in Islamabad. I found him passionate and very eager to play a positive role in sports development. During a long discussion with him various matters were debated. On some pressing issues his views were very good. He is not against any sports body and wants to bring improvement in sports.He is confident that the new sports policy, which is yet to be approved by the cabinet, will rectify the system and will usher in a new era in Pakistan's sports.
He was not satisfied with the federations' performances and said that they would have to be more proactive. He said that federations would have to play a leading role in the sports development in coming years and work in a professional way. He said that a part-time approach would not work as Pakistan needed continuous efforts to bring improvement in its sports standard.
He also stressed that federating units would have to make a solid effort to promote sports as they had a huge budget. He said that he was in contact with the provincial sports boards in order to make them realise their responsibilities.
He also talked about the restructuring of the PSB which is also a subject of the 2021 Sports Policy.
Col Asif, a former squash player, was appointed as DG PSB at a time when the Board was confronting various issues.
Before he was appointed, the board operated for around three years without a full-time Director General. He is still facing huge challenges both internally and externally but he is quite confident to overcome all hurdles. He wants Pakistan to perform better in the forthcoming Commonwealth Games and Asian Games. He said that he had told all those federations which could perform well in these Games to hold camps in their respective zones and promised the Board would back them. He said that the Board would also back federations in hiring foreign coaches and managing foreign training.
I also visited a few venues of the Pakistan Sports Complex Islamabad which are being renovated and repaired. Right from the Rodham Hall upto the Jinnah Stadium the facilities inside the country's sports headquarters are being prepared for the South Asian Games which Pakistan is to host in early 2023.
The Jinnah Stadium tartan track will also be replaced. The work will continue for the next few months but Asif said it would not affect the country's preparatory camps for the next year's major assignments.
Asif also disclosed that the Board was going to replace the decades-old tartan-track of the PSB Coaching Centre in Karachi and said that work would start on that project in the next few days.
Asif was not happy with the way some unknown sports associations take teams abroad without obtaining an NOC from the government. And the Board has made a plan to suspend such associations.
He was also confident that the football matter would be resolved soon. He said that football promotion was the government’s priority as the sport had a huge following. A few days ago heads of departments held a meeting with the Board and IPC ministry and debated how the premier's directives to departments to stop funding their sports teams and divert it to support regional teams could be implemented. Asif said almost all agreed to back the move. He said that they told departments not to make their athletes jobless but to give them jobs.
The crux of the discussion was that it is highly likely that the existing departmental system will be abolished and will be replaced by regional system as has been done in cricket where six regional teams feature in the main domestic competitions.
However, nothing is final and the minutes of the meeting are yet to be released. I hope the state takes a middle path in this case so that anything unwanted could be averted and the system could run effectively.