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Monday, November 27, 2023

Pakistan sports industry and the olympics fiasco

Fahad Qureshi reminisces about the days when Pakistan was flourishing in the sports industry and its players used to participate on international platforms on the basis of merit. He futhur talks about Pakistan's love for cricket and what this means for the future of sports industry.

There was a time when Pakistan was ruling the world of Cricket, Hockey, Snooker, and many other sports. There was a time when Pakistan was winning medals in the Olympics without any proper facilities. It was back in the days when sports were not science when it was not taken as seriously as it is today as far as fitness and modern technologies are concerned. We still stand where we were in sports; the only difference is that we have stopped winning medals.

For the love of cricket

Cricket over time got so much commercialized that it has never been in a position where other sports are. We produce good cricket players and we win tournaments every now and then. Cricket is a financially strong sport in Pakistan compared to other sports. The main reason Pakistan has not been able to progress in sport considering the kind of potential we have is that we lacked in shaping up with modern technologies in sports. Sport is now a complete science, where every single thing is monitored and worked on.

Read more: The Decline of Sports in Pakistan and how to Revive it

Every muscle of a sportsman is looked after and builds in a certain way. Which exercise will help in certain sports, which workout you should avoid, which food will keep you light but in energy, how much water you should drink, how can you prevent injuries? Even the minor details are monitored. Going through this process a sportsman is built and gets ready to compete in modern day sports.

We don’t give these resources to our athletes. They prepare in the backyard for the Olympics and then we expect them to win medals. Someone might pull out this miracle one day but this won’t change the condition of sports in Pakistan.

Champions on the basis of merit

Since 1948 Pakistan has won 10 Olympics medals which include 3 gold, 3 silver, and 4 bronze medals. It’s been 29 years since Pakistan won a medal in the Olympics. Someone has to be responsible for this, so much talent and no projection for them.

In the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the Pakistan hockey team didn’t even qualify. Four time world champion is not even a part of the Olympics. Lack of understanding about modern sports comes from individuals who have been running the show for decades. The murder of meritocracy is one main problem with the overall sports structure in Pakistan.

Read more: Pandemic hits Pakistan’s sports industry for six

We as a nation still believe in a school of thought which says let a cricketer run the cricket board or an ex hockey player run the hockey federation. Yes, they have been on top as players but modern day demands modern techniques which they are now aware of. They should be part of board advisory councils for suggestions but not to run the show. The hockey federation has been headed by several ex hockey players and today no young kid wants to take hockey as a career.

Football is one of the most watched sports in the world, Pakistan ranks at 199. People who run football in this country are enjoying perks while football players are suffering because of their politics. People in almost every sports federation in Pakistan are hired just to enjoy government perks. The sports industry is actually dead in this country which is a moment of sadness because as Pakistani we all know the kind of potential we have.

Future of sports

This country is united by sports be it cricket or any other achievement, people always appreciate talent. A country where more than half the population is young is suffering because of oldies sitting with power in hand but no heart in sports. Many people still think it’s just funds and finance to end every problem. That’s not true, it’s not funds that matter, it’s how you use those funds and who is using those funds that matters.

Read more: Sports narrative of Pakistan

Government cannot give funds to everyone forever, every federation needs to be profitable to run but in order to reach that level you need the right men. Throwing money won’t help, a handful of right men working for the sports industry and giving them full authority to hire and sack people is what we need. A total revamps and hiring from the start.

Get individuals on board who know how to run an institution and make it profitable, and then allow them to hire sportsmen belonging to those sports in advisory boards for suggestions. A country with 220 million populations and amazing sports talent deserves better.

The author is an MPhil scholar, analyst, and journalist with expertise in national and international politics. He can be reached at thefahadqureshi@gmail.com. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.