Just four hundred words to describe one long year of Pakistan sport in which the odd triumph was surrounded by tales of disappointment, despair, broken promises and half-hearted pledges?
Let’s give it a shot!
Cricket, as always, hogged the limelight for both right and the wrong reasons; hockey continued its rather sorry run, and now it seems that the Asian teams are the only teams the green shirts can tame with some degree of consistency.
At the backend of the year, the women Kabaddi team caught the attention of the country for a brief while with their bravado across the border.
They provided a silver lining, in the same vein as the snooker players who, despite stamping their authority on the world scene, continue to suffer at the hands of the sports ministry. But wait … is a sports ministry even in place? Is the tug of war between the Olympic Association and the Sports Board over? Do the snooker players have anywhere to go in pursuit of the promised prize money which, as per the so-called sports policy, is their right?
Coming back to snooker, Mohammad Asif, who won the World Amateur title in Bulgaria last year, continued his golden run this year too, pocketing the Six Reds Asian title. Then, he teamed up with Mohammad Sajjad in Ireland to win the first-ever Amateur team championship.
The governing body of the Pakistan Billiards and Snooker Association (PBSA) approached the inter-provincial ministry and the government throughout the year in an effort to ensure the arrangement of Rs25 million for Asif and Rs10 million for Sajjad. However, all their efforts have proved fruitless thus far.
In what is unarguably a bleak period for the country, sports continues to suffer. The success of the snooker players was the tonic that sportsmen and stake-holders needed. And yet, it seems that the authorities have more pressing issues to deal with.
Other than cricket, every other sport in the country is reliant on government funding. Hockey, snooker, squash, tennis, kabaddi, and others, cannot expect to blossom in the prevailing circumstances.
In the years ahead, the so-called ‘lesser’ sports in the country need to devise a mechanism through which they can stand on their own feet.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 31st, 2013.