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Decline of sports in Pakistan

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Dr. Zeeshan Khan

Cricket is observed like a passion in Sub-continent. But dropout from World Cup despite winning the last four matches and defeat by India made people of Pakistan heart broken. The expectations from cricket remain high and these become more intense when it is the arch rival India.

But what are the reasons which are causing decline of sports in Pakistan?

For the time being, future of Pakistan not only in its national game hockey but all the sports is in decline as the government is totally oblivious to the state of sports in the country. Additionally, the incumbent Prime Minister Imran Khan is completely entangled in economic and political affairs of the country so deeply that despite being one of the best sportsman of his time, is unable to address issues of sports and especially cricket.

Literally, government doesn’t care about sports.

Players can not be raised from a place where former legendary sportsmen are left to tyranny of fate. The new potential players only predict a bleak future for themselves when they see former players in bad condition, who are neglected by the government.

Pakistan won IBSF World Snooker Championship few days ago, but how much was it celebrated at national and state level.

Pakistan could never secure a place in the sports as there is no infrastructure in the country on the basis of which players could polish their talent and the coach could be able to transform those players into a world class team.

Can one imagine a modern-day Football World Cup in which there is no Brazil, Argentina or Germany? It’s almost unthinkable, in fact absurd.

The same way it once was to imagine a Hockey World Cup without Pakistan. And yet, last year this is exactly what happened.

Pakistan hockey’s slump is not quite as dramatic or sudden as it now seems to be. It’s been a slow and painful decline that began when Pakistan not only lost the World Cup title in the 1986 World Cup in England, but also came 11th in the 12-team-event.

Pakistan oddly had just a few AstroTurf stadiums, despite the fact that it was the world’s number one side.

Hockey clubs in the country still played and trained their players on grass and these players struggled when they graduated to playing top level local tournaments on AstroTurf.

The first Nawaz Sharif and the two Benazir Bhutto regimes encouraged corporate sponsors to invest in hockey. They also slightly raised the players’ fees, and ordered the laying down of more AstroTurfs but this was not enough.

Once upon a time sports was perhaps the only bearer of good news in Pakistan. Starting from the early years when the likes of squash legend Hashim Khan, the hockey team and the cricketers gave the country an identity at the international level to the Olympic conquests, World Cup-winning triumphs in hockey by winning two World Cups, two Champions Trophy titles and one Olympic gold within a span of just six years (1978-84), cricket, squash and event snooker, Pakistan almost always punched above its weights in the field of sport.

But the last three decades have been a different story altogether. There have been successes like the 2009 World Twenty20 title and 2017 champions trophy but such victories have been few and far between. Over the years, not one, not two but almost all sports have experienced a sharp slump in our country. It goes beyond misfortune and carelessness and instead appears to be a trend.

High points of our sports like the 1992 ICC World Cup victory, the many international wins achieved by the legendary Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan and even about the victory of Mohammad Yousuf who came out of nowhere to win the world snooker title. But it seems that all of a sudden, Pakistan’s well of discipline and victories has dried up. Or has it?

There are many reasons that contributed in the decline of sports including took success for granted, lack of planning, irregular support from the government, unable to keep pace with rest of the world and ignoring the mother of all sports – athletics.

There is no professionalism being exhibited by any field in the country ranging from politics to sports. No grooming is carried out at any level. Discipline is absent in totality. Our sports teams for every game must be trained by SSG in Cherat for physical fitness and lobbying is another factor to ponder upon. Sachin Tendulkar is called “God of Cricket” and it is so because he proved himself. He told in an interview that during his twenty-four years based cricket career, he used to be in ground every morning at 6’O Clock. He used to face five hundred balls daily and he never took off from his routine of practice even at his wedding day and day after which India won Cricket World Cup in 2011.

This type of sportsman spirit is required to defeat every defeat. Moreover, government has to support all sports financially more, at least, with comparable margins as of different players of the world. Most important is the state’s patronage for all kind of sports and their players. Help can be sought from technology e.g.by the usage of data driven policy. PCB needs some structural changes. Pakistan has the talent and ability but organizational revamping is also required. Experts must counsel the players for their weaknesses.

Lastly, positive criticism must be welcomed by the sports persons and sports fans must also refrain from abusive language and behaviour. Prayers and good luck hardly work in sports. Hard work is the only key to success in sports. Physical fitness plays the most important part for keeping the game up. Passionate sports fans must understand that sportsman spirit contains both win and loss.

The writer is a doctor, educationist, Blogger, certified trainer, Life Coach and Poet. He can be reached at Twitter: @DrZeeshanKhanA1 Email: dr.zeeshan.alias.ghazikhan@gmail.com

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