Lack of facilities and empty promises from the sports authorities have compelled hundreds of young, energetic badminton players in Swat to pursue their passion on a self-help basis. However, their path to ‘sports glory’ now has another impediment.
The badminton court, which the young players had constructed with their own funds on a piece of rented land, will soon be razed by the land owner. With the hall demolished, the players will have no indoor badminton court in Swat.
Badminton is played in nearly all villages of the valley, but with the only indoor badminton court gone, the players will have no option but to play the game outdoors, mostly on rented grounds.
“We are quite fond of the game and play it in fields, but that’s not how it’s supposed to be played,” said Muhammad Farooq, an avid badminton player from Amankot. Since even a slight wind can disturb the shuttlecock’s movement, badminton cannot be played out in the open, especially in Swat where the weather is mostly windy, he explained. “It is an indoor game and it should be played in indoor courts,” he added.
Farooq said that local players have requested the sports ministry time and again to construct a badminton court in their area, “but they always seem to have bigger problems to deal with”. Fayaz Khan, another sportsman from the same area, said they also requested non-governmental organisations and even USAID to provide them the facility, but they too refused.
Moreover, the players have also concerned that in the absence of training facilities their talent is being wasted.
When approached, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Sports Minister Syed Aqil Shah said that the government will construct a badminton hall in Swat soon. “Swat has suffered a lot and we want to promote sports and cultural activities in the region. For this purpose, we have also requested the International Olympic Council for funds which will be spent entirely on Swat,” he said.
Shah said that the Provincial Disaster Management Authority has a huge amount of funds for sports which are being wasted. “The international community should donate the money to the government instead of other organisations so that it is properly utilized,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 17th, 2012.