LAHORE: Pakistan Sports Board director general retired Col Asif Zaman has emphasised for round the year training camps to prepare strong teams for international competitions, as the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games draw near, with no comprehensive plan from the national sports federations or the PSB currently visible for the two prestigious sporting events.
The 2022 Commonwealth Games are being staged in Birmingham, England from July 28 to Aug 8 while the 2022 Asian Games will be held in Hangzhou, China from Sept 10 to 25.
“The camps must be held throughout the year for international competitions and it is the job of the national sports federations to hold camps and national championships in order to pick the best players for international contests,” Col Asif said while talking to Dawn.
When reminded that the PSB in the past had been organising camps for all international competitions, Zaman acknowledged it but added the PSB had done it on the request of the federations. “Therefore, the federations should come up with their plans and the PSB will facilitate them by providing facilities,” he said.
“The federations have to generate maximum activities, and they have to do it at a fast pace. The PSB has also asked the provincial sports boards to increase their activities to pick the best talent from the grassroots,” the DG said.
Noting that Covid-19 had hit Pakistan sports hard during the past two years, Col Asif said the national sports federations had to strictly follow the pandemic-related restrictions while hosting national camps of long or short duration.
The uncertainty about whether any games — Commonwealth or Asian — would be held at the scheduled time due to Covid-19 had also hindered the athletes’ preparations, the PSB director general said.
Meanwhile, Col Asif said Pakistan was also upgrading its infrastructure for hosting next year’s South Asian Games.
“We are improving the infrastructure to hold the 2023 South Asian Games,” Col Asif said.
It may be mentioned here that so far the stakeholders in Pakistan have not come on the same page in deciding the venues for the South Asian Games.
The PSB and the Pakistan Olympic Association are at odds over the matter. The PSB wants to hold the entire gala event in Islamabad while the POA is seeking to organise it in four cities of Punjab — Sialkot, Gujranwala, Faisalabad and Lahore — believing a good number of spectators would be coming to the venues to witness the contests, whereas Islamabad’s sports complex is very much likely to be filled mostly by government officers.
The POA also reckons that athletes and foreign fans from India, Bangladesh and Nepal could enter Pakistan easily and economically from Wagah Border particularly from Indian Punjab.
Published in Dawn, September 12th, 2021