KARACHI: Stakeholders demanded that the federal government restore departmental teams as these institutions have played a sheet anchor role in the development of sports and the well-being of the players and their families.
Speaking at the National Conference titled ‘Importance of Departmental Sports and Leadership through Sports’ organized by the Sports Journalists Association of Sindh (SJAS) at the Boys Scouts Headquarters stakeholders said that a committee should be constituted with an immediate effect in order to meet the prime minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif and convince him to restore the departmental teams which have been abolished during the government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
In September last year, the PTI government issued a notification and advised the departments to stop funding their sports teams and divert the budget to support the regional teams. This forced several departments to abolish their sports teams. Even before that, some departments had abolished their sports teams which created major financial issues for the players, officials, and their families.
“It’s a big financial issue for the players. You cannot bring in the Australian or English systems as they are the welfare states and players also get ample financial support through their existing systems. If we are to bring in such a system then we will also have to make a massive improvement in the other sectors also. Let’s set aside cricket, why do you abolish departments in other sports? It’s totally unacceptable,” former left-arm Test spinner Iqbal Qasim said.
“Barring cricket, the rest of the sports should be given an immediate relief by restoring the departments,” Iqbal was quick to add. “There are no budgetary issues with the banks. I request the premier that in cricket departments can be used as nurseries,” Iqbal pointed out.
Former Pakistan hockey team captain Islahuddin Siddiqui also backed the departmental sports. “Our careers flourished when we came to the departments. The department plays the role of a tonic and oxygen. We want to regulate the departments. Here players get financial assistance which helps them focus on their sports,” Islah said.
“If you want to regionalize sports then for that it is important to bring regions at par with the departments and then you can isolate the wing,” Islah pointed out.
Pakistan Snooker and Billiards Association’s chairman Alamgir Sheikh said it’s a serious issue and should be highlighted.
“We need to press this issue as it is a matter of bread and butter of the players. The whole media should raise this issue and if it does not help then we should send a delegation to meet the premier,” Sheikh said.
Karachi City Cricket Association’s (KCCA) former president and PCB former Governing Board member Professor Ijaz Farooqui said that departments, at least, offer jobs to players which secure their life.
“If a player wants to adopt sports as a career there should be departments to offer him job. And if it’s not the case how parents can allow their children to go towards sports,” Farooqui said. “Cricket, which is the focal point of people, suffered the most after departments were abolished as cricketers were seen doing odd jobs,” Farooqui said.
Pakistan football team former assistant coach Nasir Ismail also backed the departmental sports. “If you isolate the departments it will create chaos. There should be such a policy and structure where departmental sports and professional sports could be run side by side,” Nasir said.
He revealed that so far around 18 departments have disbanded their sports teams which have created a massive problem for the players and officials.
Senior journalist Rashid Aziz said that departments have played a key role in the development of sports in Pakistan which is facing financial issues.
“But where are the clubs, who used to contribute massively to the sport’s development? Unless we correct our attitude, the problems will not be resolved. We all are responsible for the creation of the existing mess in the sports circle. Always regional teams exist and departments sponsor them,” Rashid said.
The country’s renowned sports anchor Waheed Khan said that it was extremely difficult to revive departmental sports in these pressing economic conditions.
“I don’t think departments can be revived as the country’s economy does not allow us to do this. If it is not the case then there is a solution. The state should go for framing such schemes through which money could be generated and spent on sports. Departmental sports, no doubt, had a big role in the sport’s development but now the corporate sector is throwing money massively in sports and it’s time to go for its alternative through which sports could be backed,” Waheed said.
Another famous sports anchor Mirza Iqbal also gave his thumb up for departmental sports.
“Players have been groomed by departments. There is a big need for departments in the sports sector as through these institutions we have produced world greats,” Iqbal said.
Senior journalist Syed Khalid Mehmood questioned the role of organizers, saying it’s ‘very unlikely to revive departmental sports in this critical economic situation.
Senior vice-president of Sindh Olympic Association (SOA) Engineer Mehfooz-ul-Haq also highlighted the importance of departmental sports.
Also present were Ghulam Mohammad Khan, Ahmed Ali Rajput, Jamil Ahmed, and Asghar Baloch. In the end, guests have also presented with souvenirs.