LAHORE: Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) president retired Lt Gen Syed Arif Hasan has advised all the stakeholders to move forward together to achieve laurels for the country instead of debating over issues which have already been settled now.
Addressing a presser through a video-link on Friday, Gen Arif said only harmony and focussed efforts towards betterment of Pakistan sports is the key to succes. Answering various questions about Federal IPC Minister Dr Fehmida Mirza’s statement about the poor performance of POA, Gen Arif said: “We should have to move forward instead of indulging in issues which have already been settled. And if anyone still want to judge the performance of the POA, then first we should have to set the parameters of judging it.
“The development of sports has never been the responsibility of POA as it is made out to be,” he said. “Pakistan Sports Board is responsible to promote and develop standards of national fitness as well as standards of competition, comparable to international standards, and for the development of sports infrastructure and training of athletes,” he said.
“Just look at the sports budget of India, which is Rs17,000 million and is available for the national sports federations and even to players for their individual and collective training programme,” said Gen Arif. “If we continue to get involved in personal or personality clashes then no system can be flourished.
“There are no issues over the POA status as honourable courts and the IOC have settled all the issues between the POA and the government and now it is time to move forward for the betterment of the sports,” he emphasised.
He said the POA had achieved success at international level, including having seven to eight Pakistanis in the different committees of the Olympic Council of Asia, sending three shooters on the IOC’s scholarship for further high-level training. “Pakistan had the unique honour of being one of the 23 countries (out of the 202 members) selected to participate in the Olympic Day celebrations. We were represented by Aisam-ul-Haq who gave a fantastic job in front of the world,” he said.
Asked there were objections against him over his many tenures as the POA president, Arif said it was a decision of the general council to elect any suitable candidate, so it was not the domain of just any one to stand up from outside and raise objections over it. He said the IOC constitution did not bar anyone from contesting the elections for more than one time and now the country’s constitution had also allowed it.
To a question over the new formation of the Board of the PSB in which national game hockey was missing but football, which is currently being run by a normalization committee has been included, Arif said: “Yes hockey is our national game and if there are any issues of governance that could be sorted out easily and if we want to lift hockey again, we should consider its inclusion.
“About football’s inclusion, yes it was a surprising one as technically football is not running under a proper federation’s set-up. The constitution of Pakistan Sports Board needs representation from the relevant stakeholders like representation of martial arts, contact sports, power sports, Olympic and non-Olympic sports. This will enable informative decision and policy making,” he suggested.
“Further more, the regular meetings of the Board should be held and all policy decisions should be taken by the Board,” he stressed.
Gen Arif also lauded Karachi Sports Forum for its tremendous welfare campaign in Karachi and Sindh during lockdown and said the KSF really reached hundreds of sports persons and federation officials to provide relief goods during Covid-19 which was a tremendous gesture.
Asked whether the sports fraternity could not build pressure on the government to open up sports activities under special SOPs, as was successfully done by some other sectors like traders, transporters and educational sector, Gen Arif said after the opening of those sectors the pandemic spread rapidly, so there was a risk involved. But now the POA wants the government to consider the revival of the sports under the SOPs. He said some games, where man to man contact was less possible should be resumed.
The POA chief also denied the impression that the POA made the selection of the contingent for the international games. “This point (selection) raised by certain quarters is totally a wrong one. POA does not select the teams. These are selected by the Federations and no one else. It was also wrong to say that the PSB has no role to play and that POA does not coordinate. All the contingents are finalized with the mutual consultation.”
He said the PSB did not hold training camps for the last South Asian Games, as per the tradition. He said the dates of holding the last National Games in Peshawar proved a blessing for Pakistan’s South Asian Games contingent as it came back with a good number of medals.
He said the government should take input from all stakeholders if it was going to review the National Sports Policy 2005.
Published in Dawn, July 11th, 2020