Delay in revival of departmental sports exposes ministry, PSB’s slackness

The image shows a moment in the Karachi University Interdepartmental Sports Gala. — Facebook/uoktimes
The image shows a moment in the Karachi University Interdepartmental Sports Gala. — Facebook/uoktimes

ISLAMABAD: The execution of directions coming from the top has been a major hurdle in promoting and streamlining sports in the country, with incompetent regulatory authorities making a mess of all the positive initiatives taken by the higher authorities.

It was in 2022 that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif directed the Ministry for Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC) to take immediate steps to revive departmental sports forcefully closed during the PTI government in 2019. Thousands of athletes and players belonging to different sports were left jobless with others (support staff) not sure of their future.

Even a few weeks back, the PM again directed his Advisor on the Youth Programme Rana Mashhood to take immediate measures to revive the departmental teams. The sports authority in Pakistan that obviously is the Ministry for IPC and Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) happens to be too much slow and as a result nothing concrete has come up so far.

The first instruction to different departments by the PSB was passed only five days back with the second one on May 27, directing 21 departments to furnish details on sports budget, discipline and players hired by the respective entity.

The incompetence of PSB is evident from the letter No II written on May 27 (The News is in possession of the letter) to these departments, directing them to furnish all details by May 28. These departments were given May 28 deadline (a public holiday) to submit their answers with the required details. There was absolutely no realization by the PSB that on a holiday how these departments could manage such details. The PSB should have started this process long back, ensuring the timely regularisation of departmental sports in the country.

There was no requirement to write letters to the most active departments which have kept Pakistan sports alive under tough times. These include all three services (Army, Navy, and PAF) and Wapda.

Including these departments in the list of 21 inactive departments is a bit harsh. Even if the PSB wanted to get the required knowledge (which they should have already) about sportsmen and women, a separate letter should have been sent to these active sports departments.

“Realistically speaking the PM directives should have been implemented months back. By now every department should have established teams in different sports. There is absolutely no development on the sport front in leading banks that used to have teams in all major sports. Some renowned semi-governmental organizations have yet to establish hockey teams. Same is the case with some private entities that used to have teams previously,” Kashif Ali, a former national hockey player, said.

He added that these departments should have established teams two years back when the PM announced revival of departmental sports in the country. Why such a long delay? Surely, incompetence actually resulted in execution’s delay.”

Kashif hailed the PM for restoring departmental sports, saying that in a society like Pakistan there is no alternate to departmental sports. “We are not living in a country where sports followers believe in acquiring membership to generate funds. We are living in a country where the private sector hardly supports athletes and no fans come forward to pay for membership. The only option we have been left with is to establish departmental teams and to financially protect the budding sportsmen.”

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