Wednesday, November 19, 2008

General Arif confident of Pakistan's revival in Asian Games

By Ehsan Qureshi

The Chief of Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) General Syed Arif Hasan has stated that he's looking for revival of Pakistan sports and bringing it medals winning nation in the upcoming regional and Asian Games.

“We have recently achieved some encouraging results in Asian Beach Games in Bali, Commonwealth Youth Games in Pune and in some other sports,” he told a crowded news conference at the Karachi Club on November 18. Admitting the decline of sports in the country, he said concerted efforts are required from all quarters to contain this situation and put it back on the path of revival.

Pakistan once a dominating force in Asian Games, having won bundle of gold medals in Athletics, boxing, hockey, snooker, sailing, wrestling etc., gave a disappointing show in Doha where it failed to win even a single gold. “Winning two silver and one bronze in 77-nation Commonwealth Games in wrestling was a great achievement from the youngsters, he reckoned.

He described two gold medals in handball and wrestling and three silver and three bronze, an outstanding accomplishment in 45-nation Asian Beach Games in Indonesia. The POA President said the country’s sports federation needs funding to the tune of four hundred million rupees from Pakistan Sports Board for the next two years to prepare teams and players for XI SAF Games in Bangladesh in 2009 and 2010 Asiad in Guanzhou (China) to achieve good results. “We are going all out to lift and revive the standard of sports”, he pointed out, but added that without funding nothing can be achieved.

General Arif, who is also Chairman of Pakistan Sports Trust (PST), disclosed that grants of Rs. 196 millions have already been provided to various federations for preparation of various teams for participation in regional and international events, by the trust. He complimented Pakistan Junior Volleyball team for their good show in Junior Asian where they finished third and qualified for next years World Volleyball Championship in France. “Let us put the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games behind and look to the future now”. He said except for Hockey, Pakistan had no chance of winning any medal in Beijing Olympics and like anybody else he, too, was disappointed with hockey team’s poor show.

He pointed out that Pakistan’s last medal came in 1992 Barcelona Olympics. “Our focus is regional events and Asian Games as we are lagging far too behind in Olympics,” he emphasized. He reminded that POA and PST are making all the national federations accountable for the finances made available to them and now their performance in international arena is taken into consideration. Without naming a national federation, he said the PST had imposed a ban on its funding as its officials were on the joyride most of the time. President of Pakistan Table Tennis Federation (PTTF) S M Sibtain, President of Pakistan Billiards and Snooker Association (PBSA) Alamgir Anwar Shaikh and Director Finance and Administration of PST Col.(Rtd)Mohammad Azhar Dean, were prominent among those present in the media briefing.

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