LAHORE: A number of renowned international players attended a grand function arranged by the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) to celebrate the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace at a local hotel on Monday night where they urged the need to promote sporting culture in the country.
Hockey Olympians Tariq Aziz, Akhtar Rasool Chaudhary, Col Mudassar Asghar, Manzoor-ul-Hasan Senior, Mohammad Usman and squash legend Jehangir Khan were amongst the prominent former players who delivered speeches with presidents and secretaries of various national sports federations also in attendance.
More importantly, the distance between the government and the POA seemed to be reduced further as two government officials including Ijaz Chaudry, the federal sports ministry secretary, and Director General Punjab Sports Board (SBP) Usman Anwar also present.
The conflict-like situation between the government and the POA had brought Pakistan on the brink of the IOC suspension last year. However, the government took a step back to avoid IOC suspension, just three days before when the international game’s governing body was all set to suspend Pakistan’s membership.
The speakers also called upon the government could play a pivotal role in helping Pakistan regain its former sporting glory.
Col Mudassar and Tariq urged the government to help out the sports federations in attracting maximum youth towards the sporting activities as it was the lone way to end the terrorism from the country.
“Sports in Pakistan needs financial backing to return to professional ways,” Tariq added.
Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) president Akhtar Rasool, meanwhile, said: “Hockey has brought notable laurels for the country in the past and it needs maximum patronage of the government to revive Pakistan’s past glories.”
Jahangir echoed Rasool’s view. “Pakistan should be focus on regaining the foothold it enjoyed in international sport,” said the squash great. “Sport is a very effective medium to promote peace in the society.”
Federal sports secretary Ijaz said Pakistan should take a leaf from South Korea’s book who had cut its health budget to divert major part of it to sporting activities believing that when people are healthy they are at a lesser risk to disease.
“The national federations should also a culture of self-accountability in their units,” he added.
DG Punjab Sports Usman urged sports federations to introduce scientific methods to accelerate the country’s sporting growth with Pakistan Volleyball Federation (PVF) Chaudhry Mohammad Yaqoob reading out the address of the POA president Lt Gen (r) Arif Hasan, who is out of the country, due to a personal assignment.
Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2015