Sarah rues lack of support


April 27, 2010

KARACHI: Sara Mehboob is Pakistan’s youngest national champion. She is also Pakistan’s topranked female player since 2005, a period longer than what Roger Federer held his number one status for.

Her father promised her attention and consideration if she were to reach the summit. Sadly, five years after making that place her own, she is yet to witness that verbally or financially. After claiming 55 titles nationally, and reaching various semi-finals and finals of international junior tournaments, Sarah turned professional and now wants to take part in the $10,000 ITF Women’s Future tournament. But it’s not the nervousness or fear that is holding her back. It is the lack of finances.

The hidden treasure In her debut 2008 ITF Women Future event in Islamabad, she was the sole Pakistani girl progressing to the quarter-final stage. Talent notwithstanding, finances have always been an obstacle for Sarah which she believes has hampered her international ranking and her. “Sarah’s current ranking is nothing,” said the Pakistan Tennis Federation President Dilawar Abbas. “You need to achieve a certain international ranking before you can participate in tournaments like Wimbledon.”

Financial limitations According to Sara’s father, “the government doesn’t do anything for people like Sarah who has won 55 national titles, a record for any teenager in Pakistan.” Sania brings hope “I want to see Sania Mirza and Sarah play an exhibition match in Pakistan” said Abbas. “Sania can be a positive influence.” While the duo await the opportunity, Sarah, despite the obstacles and blunders, has set her eyes firmly on tennis being close to her heart in the coming years. “Ten years from now, I want be someone who’s played the international circuit well and have gotten a respectable international ranking.”

COMMENTS (1)

Mahboob Khan | 10 years ago | Reply Thank you Khadija for highlighting our tennis heros. Your article on Sarah is an eye opener. Let's hope it's read by those who matter. PTF's President Syed Dilawar Abbas and POA's President General S. Arif Hasan, did provide some limited help in the past for which we are grateful, but tennis player development is like an onion with multiple layers such as equipment, coaching/training, national/international tournaments, and sponsors, and to achieve one's full potential these layers cost an average of more than $100,000/year. We are also grateful to the Roots School System for providing full tennis scholarship to Sarah. We are looking for a major sponsor to pick up all her tennis needs. Terrorism is a tree which has its roots in unresolved geo-political conflicts, economic deprivation, injustice, ignorance, misinterpretation of Islam, and non-sporty environment, and no wonder majority of the suicide bombers caught are in the range of 15 to 20 years olds. It's high time that the Government of Pakistan in particular and society in general involve our youth in sports so that they do not get enlisted in terrorist organizations, and those athletes such as Sarah who are our best sporting icons are supported through various stages of their development. Thank you very much for starting the ball rolling.
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