ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Planning and Inter-Provincial Coord­ination Ahsan Iqbal said on Friday that Pakistan will hold the South Asian Games next year by all means.

The holding of the Games, slated for 2023, has seen a consistent delay but Ahsan stressed during the inauguration of the National Conference on Revival of Sports that “2025 would be the year of sports revival in Pakistan”.

“All out efforts are being made to improve sports in the country,” he stated. “Before the South Asian Games, we will hold the National Games as well as the Quaid-i-Azam Games in Karachi and Islamabad respectively this year. For the South Asian Games, we will hire the services of the best foreign coaches, particularly from China, to prepare our athletes.”

Pledging to provide comprehensive support to country’s top athletes, Ahsan said the country is blessed with sporting talent. “The aim of this conference is to decide how we can offer broad-based support to our athletes,” he added.

He announced several initiatives to promote sports, including the preparation for the 2028 Olympics, promotion of institutional sports, and establishment of an endowment fund for players. He also mentioned the installation of astro-turfs to highlight sports from the grassroots level.

“Ending doping in sports in Pakistan is a top priority,” he stressed, emphasising the need to revive sports, which he termed as a “reflection of the nation’s character”.

“We must invest in our youth and sports infrastructure to create a vibrant sports culture in Pakistan. This is crucial for building a positive image of our nation and promoting national unity and pride.”

The IPC minister also appreciated the performance of the national hockey team, which finished as runners-up at the recent Azlan Shah Cup.

“Within a week, we will provide jobs to those players in the team who are unemployed,” Ahsan added.

HOCKEY TEAM MEETS ARMY CHIEF

The hockey team, meanwhile, was received by Chief of Army Staff General Syed Asim Munir at the General Headquarters on Friday.

Also in attendance were Pakistan Hockey Federation president Tariq Hussain Bugti and other officials.

“The hockey team has brought immense pride to the nation, and we are committed to providing them with comprehensive support to ensure their continued success,” the Army chief said.

He extended his best wishes to the players for their future endeavours.

Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2024

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