After a long gap of nine years, National Games were finally organised in Peshawar by KPK Olympic Association from Nov 10-16 in collaboration with the KPK Govt & Pakistan Olympic Association (POA). The journey of 33rd National Games began with the torch relay travelling across the entire country for the first ever time. The torch journey commenced from Karachi and culminated at the host city of Peshawar.

The various sports disciplines in the 33rd National Games were held at different venues in Peshawar, Mardan & Abbottabad. Fourteen teams participated in the event including KPK, Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, Gilgit Baltistan, AJK, Islamabad, Pakistan Army, Pakistan WAPDA, Pakistan Navy, Pakistan Air force, Railways, HEC & Pakistan Police.

The opening ceremony proved to be a remarkable display of grandeur and spirit. Around 10,000 athletes from all over Pakistan arrived in KPK to participate in 32 male & 27 female sports events. The ceremony commenced after torch lightning by Olympian Islahuddin, squash legend Jansher Khan and a few other prominent sportspersons.

Special commandos, in a breath-taking Para jumping display, entertained the spectators. Soon afterwards ‘Junoon’ band singer Salman Ahmed - with his charismatic performance – helped create a mesmerizing and electric environment.

Once again, Pakistan Army clinched the Quaid-e- Azam trophy - for the 24th time - after securing 7909 points with 150 gold medals, 134 silver and 96 bronze medals.

Pakistan WAPDA took second position with 7093 points, and won 148 gold, 99 silver and 73 bronze medals. Pakistan Railway secured third place in the table by scoring 1815 points by winning 12 gold, 20 silver and 73 bronze medals.

KPK Governor Shah Farman awarded the fair play trophy to KPK’s gold medalists, karate champion Murad Ahmed and badminton player Murad Ali at the closing ceremony of the games.

This National Games had its own uniqueness with many historical moments taking place. First time in the history of the Games, women’s boxing was included in the mega event.

Overall, no less than nine new national records were made in athletics. Provincial culture was highlighted through cultural dances and ethnic music; portraits of famous athletes were pasted around the streets of the city sending a positive message to the world that Pakistan is a sports loving nation and believe in peace and harmony.

The backstage heroes who played their roles to make the Games end on a great note indeed deserve our highest tributes. They maintained strict law and order and fool proof security for the athletes, the officials and the spectators.

The organizing committee also deserve hig praise for fulfilling all the requirements and providing best facilities and peaceful atmosphere both on and off the field.

The efforts made by KPK Olympic Association under the leadership of Lt.Gen(R) Syed Arif Hasan, President Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) coupled with the tremendous support from KPK Govt for the incident free Games is no doubt commendable.

Holding successful Games is a great achievement; however these events should be organized with continuity so that athletes could get more and more opportunities to perform at the national level and develop and groom themselves to bring laurels for Pakistan in international events.

Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2019