Volleyball triumph

Published May 20, 2024

IN the last week, while Pakistan’s cricket team savoured a come-from-behind T20 series victory against Ireland, another national team bagged a share of the spotlight thanks to its sterling performances. Pakistan’s volleyball team proved invincible at the Central Asian Championship in Islamabad, romping to the title with victory over Turkmenistan in the final. The volleyball team has made huge strides in the past few years. It finished fifth at the Asian Games last year; its best performance since winning bronze at the 1962 edition. With a global ranking of 51, it is South Asia’s best team although it competes in the Central Asian region and emerged as the top team there. Next up for Murad Jehan’s men is the Asian Championship. The current lot has shown a lot of potential and while the team has been showered with messages of congratulations, it needs more patronage. Ahead of the final Murad spoke of the need for a professional league in the country. He did not mince his words in stating that Pakistan’s national team had improved because most players compete in leagues abroad.

Setting up the league could be the first step. On the same day the volleyball team won the Central Asian title, Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Ahsan Iqbal vowed that the government would do its best to uplift sports. It would do well to start with volleyball and hockey, where the national team recently showed signs of revival by reaching the final of the Azlan Shah Cup. But the government needs to look beyond handing out jobs to players. It should organise competitions, which will enable players to earn on a regular basis. With cricket dominating the headlines and bagging the biggest chunk of whatever is on offer in terms of sports sponsorship, it has been a struggle for other sports. These teams and players have shown that they too need to be celebrated and supported equally.

Published in Dawn, May 20th, 2024

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