Pakistan, the ‘sports-loving’, or to be more specifically ‘cricket-loving’ country, is one of the most active countries in the late 90’s in terms of Sports. In 1994, the Country was honored to have 4 world cups. That includes Cricket, Hockey, Squash, and Snooker. Pakistan produced many legends of their respective sports including Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Javed Miandad and many others from Cricket. Pakistan’s National Hockey Team holds the record for the most World Cup wins. Green shirts succeeded to lift the title five times. Pakistan dominated squash like no other country in the world, the domination lasting for the best part of 5 decades. It reached its peak in the 1980s and 1990s during the reigns of Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan. Between 1950 and 1997, Pakistan amassed over 30 British Open titles, 14 World Open titles, and a lot more PSA professional titles. Jahangir Khan is considered by many to be the greatest player ever to grace a squash court. During his career, he won the World Open six times and the British Open a record ten times. Between 1981 and 1986, he was unbeaten in competitive play for five years. During that time he won 555 matches consecutively. This was not only the longest winning streak in squash history but also one of the longest unbeaten runs by any athlete in top-level professional sports.
Unfortunately, By the passage of time, the corporate factors in cricket drew the country’s focus solely on this game. This sky-high cricket fever caused terrible damage to the other games. Talking about the darker side of our sporting history, apart from few countable, Pakistan always struggled to make positive news from other games. The country only won 10 medals in the Olympic Games since the maiden participation, back in 1948. However, the performance in Commonwealth games, which is comparatively a smaller-scale contest, is slightly better with 69 medals.
The dummy organization named as Pakistan Sport’s Board (PSB) is in charge of 35 sporting federations.
The federations under Pakistan Sports Board are as follows:
- Billiards and Snooker
- Rifle Shooting
- Table Tennis
- Tenpin Bowling
35 federations, 35 infrastructures and millions of budget. But unfortunately, PSB as a whole, miserably fail to make these games progress. No major steps have been taken to promote these games in the country. The poor infrastructure, lack of goodwill and ineligible people on key posts are some of the many reasons of such catastrophe of Sports in Pakistan.
The Tug of war between governing Body and federations for favorite placements is another disgrace to the country. A dispute between the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) and the state-operated Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) threaten the country’s participation in London Olympics back in 2012.
Recently, the winner of International ju-jitsu Championship, Abu Huraira with his tag-team partner Ammar is among the three Pakistanis to participate in the World Games, that will be held in Warsaw, Poland. When we inquire him about the role of Pakistan’s Ju-Jitsu Federation in his appearance on World games, Abu Huraira told Telenews that the federation is always in financial crisis. Federation don’t get funds and support from the government. Federation is supposed to convey the message to PSB, and PSB is responsible for releasing funds for us. We qualified for World games by performing in Asian Games on our own expenses. Despite the fact that we’re only three players to represent Pakistan in World Games, The PSB is short of money to fund us. The National Snooker Champion Muhammad Bilal is the third player to represent Pakistan in the contest.
The country’s relevant authority for the World’s most popular game, football, The Pakistan’s Football federations is another name for disputes and mismanagements. The governing body was chaired by a ‘Sijada Nasheen’ Makhdoom Faisal Saleh Hayaat.
Mr Hayaat got the post for the third time after a long dispute and controversial election in 2015. Since then, the power game in football federation is not over yet. In July 2017, the FIFA threatened to suspend the PFF’s membership if it kept refusing to hand football affairs to its president-elect Faisal Saleh Hayat. Former coach Nasir Ismail asked FIFA to hold fresh elections for the PFF’s presidency.
Somewhere in-between intensive disputes of officials for the key posts, the performance of Pakistan football team fell down from bad to worse. Currently, team Pakistan is ranked at 200th place in FIFA rankings out of 206 countries. Pakistan’s ranking in some of the games are as follows:
- Basketball: 94th rank
- Volleyball: 50th
- Hockey: 13th
- Netball: Nowhere in the ranking
- Handball: 440th
- Badminton: No Pakistani player in top 25
- Table tennis: No Pakistani player in top 10
- Baseball Women: 13th
- Baseball men: 24th
Such poor stats from different games not only marks the question on their respective federations. But also reflects the immediate need of accountability. Each Federation has a president and a secretary. They enjoy a handsome amount of salaries from public’s taxes to promote and strengthen the game in the country. But unfortunately, these officials have made Federations their own heritage. Many of the officials from top management are appointed since the late 90s.
Apart from Mismanagements and organizational disputes, these federations never bother to initiate any platform to train younger players or to groom ‘naturally occurring’ talent. Many of the world class players complain about not getting the proper support from their federations. The governing bodies are often unresponsive when players needed them to participate in International contests. Players usually go through the hectic phase of finding a sponsor on their own to fulfill their trip-expenses as they are not financially supported by their respective federations to participate in international contests. However, everyone is there to receive credit when a player won any medal on behalf of his own hard-work and dedication. The Government announces high five grants for the winners but the players never even got money that would suffice to fulfill their basic expenses.
Muhammad Waseem, the Current WBC Silver FlyWeight Champion, While talking to Dawn news, revealed that he has received offers to play for other countries, like Korea, but he loves his country and will continue to represent Pakistan.
Waseem said that during his last fight, “Both of us boxers did a lot of punching and I received 3 to 4 cuts near my eyes and face and I bear the pain with happiness for my country but I really fear for the future of boxing in Pakistan.”
He added, “The Pakistan boxing Federation is in a tug of war for posts and power but no one is doing any thing to promote boxing in Pakistan”.
Waseem claimed that his fellow boxers are in bad shape and one of his fellow boxers use to work as a vendor selling samosas to earn a living.
“Now imagine where Pakistan boxing stands at the and how bleak the future will be,” he said.
There are many cases in Boxing where a number of talented players could not be able to qualify for Olympics just because of lack of support from the governing body.
Muhammad Asif, the winner of IBSF World Snooker Championship, 2012. After a year of his victory, He said he has seen nothing of the $100,000 reward promised him by the government for his win.
A Pakistani national Afghan snooker player who reached the final of the IBSF World Snooker Championship in 2003 and won two medals at Asian Games, 2002. He decided to retire in protest because he “couldn’t bear such injustice where cricketers were showered with cash awards on normal victories” and he “wasn’t given anything.
Salman Ahmed was alone in the crowd when he became the first Pakistani to win the Musclemania world bodybuilding title in Las Vegas last year, unable to afford an entourage of managers, coaches, promoters like his fellow competitors, Dawn news reported.
Now the 25-year-old is back in Pakistan and facing a choice: with no financial support from the government of his cricket-obsessed country and potential sponsors made skittish by its security issues, he must decide between giving up his glittering career or leaving home.
“A bodybuilder has no future in Pakistan,” he tells AFP during a workout at his gym in a low-income neighborhood of the eastern city of Lahore.
The US Consulate has congratulated him on his historic win in the lightweight category at Musclemania, the world’s premier natural bodybuilding contest. Even Pakistan’s arch-rival India has been courting him by inviting him to speak at seminars in various cities.
But from Pakistani officials, he says, he has not heard a word.
“Cricket players get all the limelight, while other sportsmen suffer due to lack of attention and financial support,” Ahmed tells AFP.
“Nobody in the government cared to even send me a congratulatory message.
“He says he has had “some very lucrative offers” from European countries and the US to compete for them instead.
“But then I would have to leave my home and my country, and I would not be able to wave the Pakistani flag when I win.”
Atif Anwer, first Pakistan body builder to bagged the honor of winning the over 100-kilogram title in Arnold Classic Bodybuilding Championship back in 2015. He had to look for a sponsor himself, to coup up the trip-expenses.
It is not only the relevant federations that are responsible for making these games ‘Strange’ in the country. Media and government also treat other games’ biasedly. There is no trend of proper coverage of events. Media usually don’t create hypes for big games of different sports other than Cricket and Hockey. The only headline about them is only when they won.
The imbalance behavior of the society between Cricket and other sports disheartened many players. It seems like, millions of cash prizes, plots in posh areas and luxury cars are only for cricketers. Many other athletes who tirelessly work to achieve honor for their country hardly wins a bread for their family in the end of the day.