KARACHI: Pakistan women are scheduled to make their international boxing debut in the South Asian Games (SAG) in India next month, but preparations for the landmark event leave a lot to be desired.
Instead of organising an event to shortlist pugilists for the Games on merit, the Pakistan Boxing Federation (PBF) has simply directed the relevant provincial bodies to send at least two girls each to the national boxing camp under way in Peshawar.
Seventeen-year-old Anum Qambrani, who hails from Lyari and trains at the Pak-Shaheen Boxing Club there with her father and coach Younus Qambrani, is one of the two boxers named by the Sindh Boxing Association (SBA) for the camp.
The choice of venue for the training camp is a cause of concern for Younus, who believes that Karachi would have been a better option, given the city’s history of producing local boxing legends.
Younus is a professional coach and has been responsible for success stories like that of his brother Majeed Qambrani, who won the South Asian Games gold medal in 1988.
“I’ll continue training Anum and 12 other girls in the club,” Younus told The Express Tribune. “I wonder what the facilities would be like in Peshawar; I feel a little hesitant to send my daughter as we have no idea about the training situation there.”
Younus, who started a programme for girls at his club in Lyari in September, insisted that the only best talent of Pakistan should be present at the regional event.
Meanwhile, SBA secretary Asghar Baloch claimed that his federation will host an All-Pakistan Women Boxing Championship on January 26, where women from Gilgit-Baltistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, Fata, Balochistan, Army and two teams from Sindh will vie for the title.
However, if the championship goes ahead, it would be cutting it close with the SAG beginning on February 5.
PBF secretary Iqbal Hussain admitted that the federation had to prepare for the women’s event in a hurry, as the country’s government only recognised women’s boxing as a formal sport on August 31.
When asked why Peshawar had been chosen to host the training camp, Hussain said more boxers were training in Peshawar in the seniors’ category as compared to any other city. “Besides, the venue is safe and many girls from Lahore and other cities have joined in too,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 6th, 2016.