Going nowhere

May 29, 2022

Pakistan's shuttlers cannot even go a single step forward on the international circuit under the current set-up, says international badminton coach Raziuddin Ahmed

Going nowhere

Badminton in Pakistan is a highly neglected sports discipline despite its somewhat solid past. These days a former international shuttler Wajid Ali Chaudhry is handling badminton affairs as Pakistan Badminton Federation's (PBF) chief but he is not capable enough to help the country rise in the discipline in international circuit. There is immense talent in the country but it is not being nurtured properly. Besides this, politics and likes and dislikes have also damaged this game.

Pakistan features in international events just to fulfill formalities. We have seen this for so many years with no big success story for the country in the discipline. There are manifold reasons behind the low standard of badminton in Pakistan.

Let's ask international coach Raziuddin Ahmed and he will tell you why badminton is so weak in Pakistan.

"The confused PBF can never establish a sound training programme in order to develop the game. The country cannot go a step forward in the international circuit," Razi told 'The News on Sunday' (TNS) in a candid interview.

"Look, India won the 32nd edition of the Thomas Cup men's team event 2022 at Bangkok. India clinched the maiden victory by beating Indonesia 3-0. Indonesia is the most successful nation, holding 14 Thomas Cup titles since it started in 1949 in England. China won ten titles, Malaysia followed with five and Japan, Denmark and India have one crown each to their credit. A great struggle and effective long-term plan have made India the most competitive unit. It will appear as hot favourites in the Commonwealth Games slated to be held in Birmingham from July 28 to August 8," Razi said.

"Pakistan, on the other hand, has no chance in the Commonwealth Games. Pakistan will feature in the quadrennial spectacle to fulfill a mere formality. Pakistan always sends its squad to the international circuit without any solid plan. When the squad returns after tasting humiliating defeats, the blame game starts. No one is serious here to look after national shuttlers properly so that they could excel in the international circuit," Razi said.

"The PBF was very confused while deciding the trials for the Commonwealth Games. Initially, it announced that the trials would be held on May 11-12. Later it announced that the shuttlers would be selected based on their performance at the SNGPL national ranking tournament which was scheduled to begin from May 25. Later it changed its mind and conducted trials on the previously announced dates. After trials, national shuttlers were preparing for the SNGPL ranking event but the PBF played a smart trick and postponed this event. It knew that a few upsets would expose its selection credibility for the Commonwealth Games," he said.

"National champion Murad Ali is an unlucky athlete who despite having performed consistently for the last one decade as a summit player never got any IOC scholarship or received any international BWF's academy training. The PBF has destroyed this real talent. In fact, Murad and Rizwan Azam had defeated the then national champions Wajid Ali and Ahsan Qamar in 2009 at Islamabad but at that time due to a rift with Imtiaz Gill, who won the PBF elections, they (PBF Lahore) changed the status of the championship," Razi recalled.

"Murad has not been in the good books of the PBF and most of the time he faced sanctions and fines. Despite these hurdles, he is absolutely No1 shuttler of the country. But it's not easy for Murad to win the Commonwealth Games whose standard is quite high," Razi said.

"The performance of other shuttlers is extremely sub-standard. They were unable to beat Irfan Saeed Bhatti in the Commonwealth Games trials. Irfan remained out of the competitive circuit for more than a year due to his knee injury. That has exposed the talent which the country has," he revealed.

"The training ethics of the shuttlers in the past was very strong. They were also lucky to have a high-level professional Chinese coach with a sound progressive development programme. The role of Zakir Hussain Syed, former Director General of Pakistan Sports Board (PSB), Naqi Mohsin, a former PBF senior vice-president, and SK Mehmood, a former president PBF, was remarkable in establishing the Chinese camp. Although these personalities are no longer with us, they were united and sincere to develop badminton. Politics destroyed badminton during the 1982-2014 time-frame. Club structure was very strong in the past and people knew each district representative. It was difficult to speak a lie while voting. These days the situation is that even people living in Lahore can represent Kasur or Okara district. Today sports federations keep like-minded people as their office-bearers. Surprisingly in Rawalpindi-Islamabad I have not seen any local district

association since 2008 but there are chances that a bogus association may be in the PBF record," Razi revealed.

"In the Rawalpindi division I have heard that the Chakwal district badminton association is being handled by two lawyers who I have never seen in my life. Attock district badminton association has become united last year and Jhelum district association is unknown. I have never seen it conducting any event. I do not know about other districts of Punjab or national level. This system needs to be upgraded and bogus clubs should be put out of the system which is very important if the sport is to be developed," Razi said.

"Our shuttlers need mental preparation training so that they can snatch a point from the opponents. They don't have training about how to get an outclass landing winning point. They are unable to remember the weakness of their rivals and usually play with power, not with mind. Smart winning tactics are not in their dictionary," he said.

"The badminton community was expecting something new from the PBF president Wajid Ali but despite being chairman development committee of Badminton Asia Wajid miserably failed to do anything noteworthy for Pakistan," Razi concluded.


Going nowhere