The year 2018, like many others before it, will stand witness when the sports federations of Pakistan are called for an audit, and they are unable to forward a substantial claim in their own favour.
Sport in Pakistan is always equal to cricket, while football, tennis, field hockey (our national sport), sports which attract the biggest crowds in the world, are still facing turmoil or lack of attention in our country. Reasons are varied and many but one of them holds a lot of truth value, which is that Pakistan doesn’t invest a lot in creating stars in other sports.
No one knows why cricket became so big in Pakistan, no one knows when hockey started seeing empty stadiums even when a World XI visited the country this year, no one knows why Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan were never followed by other squash greats, no one knows why Aisamul Haq and Aqeel Khan can’t see some upcoming star replace them, no one knows and can possible know why sports take a back seat when talking about national issues and interests.
Pakistan took part in the Winter Olympics, the Commonwealth Games, the Asian Games and the Hockey World Cup this year after holding a bat and throwing a Kookaburra, and apart from one-off gold-winning performances, mostly the usual suspects in wrestling, weightlifting and Kabaddi, no other athlete and the country as a whole were unable to create headlines. Surprised? If sports are your thing, you wouldn’t be because this has been the case for us in the good part of the last decade.
However, athletes, and federations and their official are optimistic that with a new prime minister, a cricketer-convert-politician, Imran Khan at the helm, things will start moving towards betterment. And as we enter 2019, athletes’ mottos of never giving up and trying our best always can be the guiding lights for sports in Pakistan, because there is always light at the end of the tunnel.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 31st, 2018.
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