With the game of hockey touching its lowest ebb in Pakistan and the fate of other sports not so different, another disaster-like situation is in the making as sports authorities are yet to finalise any clear-cut roadmap regarding next year’s South Asian Federation (SAF) Games in India. The Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) and the national sports federations are not only indecisive about setting up of training camps but lack a crystal clear vision about Pakistan contingent at a time when the SAF Games is just around the corner. The reason cited in the sports circles behind the apathy prevailing among sports officials and their respective federations is the unenthusiastic attitude of fountainhead of sports power in the country namely the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB). The POA also doubts any brilliant performance on part of Pakistan contingent in the SAF Games, scheduled to be held in January next year, as the National Olympic Committee is yet to see any comprehensive plan being chalked up by the PSB.
Less than five-month time period is left in the start of the mega event but there is no sign of starting training camps in various disciplines, said POA president Lt Gen (r) Syed Arif Hasan on Friday. He said it was imperative to start the camps without any delay as a lot of time had already been wasted and any further delay could jeopardise the country’s prospects of winning medals. The POA chief said it was the duty of the PSB to chalk out a comprehensive plan for training of sportsmen in the lead-up to the SAF Games, adding that the quarters concerned had not taken any decision so far to engage athletes. If the same situation persists we will not be able to put up a decent show in the Games and might finish behind Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, Arif lamented.
He said the POA as well as other national sports federations had approached the PSB in this regard besides writing a number of letters to the top sports body reminding it the importance of the SAF Games and Pakistan’s prospects in the event but ironically nothing had been done to address the important issue. India as hosts started their preparations long ago to maintain their supremacy as defending champions in the SA Games, whereas Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are also training hard to throw a tough challenge in their quest to secure top spots in the Games, said Arif while responding to a question. Unfortunately, we are without any plan to even hold training camps for the Games which must be more than enough for setting alarm bells ringing. He further said that if training camps were not set up we might finish fourth behind India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh which will be shameful.
Finishing fourth in the SAF Games means that Pakistan will once again hit rock bottom in sports after recent hockey debacle, he asserted. Other South Asian countries are taking the SAF Games very seriously which is evident from their preparations under the watchful eyes of foreign coaches, whereas we are without any preparation which will only add to our sagging fortunes in sports, maintained Arif who also urged the government to give top priority to Pakistan participation in the SAF Games by arranging training camps besides ensuring participation of various teams in international tournaments so that athletes gain required standard in order to fetch medals.