KARACHI: The Pakistan contingent will be returning home empty-handed from the Olympics for the fifth time in a row and the country’s chef de mission, Aqil Shah, suggested a more equitable share of resources for all athletes, while lamenting the attention that hockey got for the mega event.
Shah called for a cut in the funds allocated to the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) and asked for focus to be put on other associations that are capable of winning medals.
“We’re spending way too much money on hockey,” Shah told The Express Tribune from London. “The PHF received a funding of Rs500 million from the government while assistance for other federations was minimal. Despite getting so much money, we failed to win a medal. We’ve clinched medals in wrestling and boxing in the past. But how can athletes perform when they don’t even have the money to eat the prescribed diet.
“Similarly our karate players don’t have money to buy proper kits. This difference between sports needs to end with an equal distribution of funds. A medal is a medal whether it’s through hockey or from a discus throw. What I feel is if had we spent equally, we could have earned better results than this.”
Shah ponders formation of ‘sports body’
The official, who is also the Khyber-Pakthunkhwa sports minister, said he was mulling to form a sports authority in the country.
“We will be working for its formation after the Olympics. The purpose will be promotion of sports through an equal distribution of funds. The sports bodies or sports ministries are not getting equal or enough funds from the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB).
“This body will include sports ministers of all the provinces as its core members to ensure transparency. I have faith that our chances to end the drought of Olympic medals will get better by ensuring equal distribution of funds. What I want is a different result in Rio 2016 than what we got in London.”
Pakistan took part in four disciplines this year as it received wild-card entries for shooting, swimming and athletics, while the hockey team qualified for the mega event after winning the Asian Games. Pakistan’s last medal in the Olympics was its hockey bronze in 1992.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 10th, 2012.