Whither sports arena

 Adeela Naureen

Like so many public sector challenges, sports in Pakistan has seen a steady decline; there could be hundred and one reasons for that; however, declining health and sports environment is one major factor which has adversely affected the growth of sports in Pakistan.

In the hey days of sports in seventies and eighties, Pakistan ruled the world of sports in hockey, squash,snookers, boxing, wrestling, kabaddi, cricket and even some track and field areas of athletics.

Gradually, and due to lack of focus, Pakistan lost her place in the world of sports and barring cricket, sports culture has tremendously declined. Since inception, Pakistan’s place in the sports arena was supported by public sector and its enterprises like PIA, Railways, Defence Services, Police, Customs, banks, concerned ministries and occasional participation of corporate or private sector.

As per Wikipedia,the Pakistan Sports Board was created in 1962 by the Ministry of Education as a corporate body for the purposes of promoting and developing uniform standards of competition in sports in Pakistan comparable to the standards prevailing internationally, and regulating and controlling sports in Pakistan on a national basis.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, now has control over the Pakistan Sports Board. The PSB controls all 39 sporting federations. The Pakistan Sports Board is supported by the Pakistan Sports Trust, which assists hard up players and associations so they can continue participating in sports.

Despite a good start even Pakistan Sports Board and its subsidiaries have not been able to harness total potential of sports in Pakistan.

Overall, Pakistan sports have declined over period of last three decades, Pakistan’s position in hockey and squash which was envy of its time declined to an extent that Pakistan struggles to qualify for major championships.

There are few examples of individuals and entities, who through their sheer hard work have achieved some laurels at international level, one example is of Arshad Nadeem, who has shown his talent in javelin throw and displayed his prowess to compete in international events.

Today, Pakistan, a nation of almost 230 million people,with a youth bulge accounting for almost 63% of population is left far behind comparatively smaller countries.

Despite availability of modern technology for training in sports and implosion of sports and fitness culture across the world, somehow Pakistanihierarchy has been found wanting in developing sports and fitness culture and creating a sports friendly environment. Economic challenges, lack of jobs and growing political instability has created sense of deprivation and despondency in the masses.

Glancing at neighboring countries, even within SAARC region, one finds growth of sports and fitness culture.For example, Corporate India has led the idea of developing sports at National and International level.

In last 20 years India has grown in number of sports that include cricket, football, hockey, wrestling badminton, kabaddi, shooting, archery, field and track and even in squash.

Taking a cue from India, Adani Group has its main subsidiary with the name of Adani Sportsline; this was created with an overarching philosophy to inculcate a culture of sports at the grassroots level and create globally competitive opportunities for future champions.

This is an apt example where corporate India has funded sports cities and created state of the art enterprises to encourage sports at National and international level.

Demographically, Pakistan with 230 million populationsand more than 60% youth has enormous potential to perform well in sports at National and international level.

An important factor, which has adversely affected sports environment in Pakistan is the War onTerror in last two decades, it adversely affected the arrival of international sports teams in Pakistan as Pakistan was unable to host any major international sports event.

Adding to security environment challenges is the lack of motivation to develop sports arenas of international standards by private enterprises.

So what are the options available to kick start and re-invigorate sports culture in Pakistan?

One option is that government takes a comprehensive stock of this challenge and creates state of the art sports facilities, not only in big cities but also in suburbs and rural areas to place Pakistan back at the Global scene.

Another option is the incorporation of Corporate Pakistan into sports arena, this could take form of initiatives by corporate conglomerates and businessman who could create sports cities which are then sponsored by the state.

Actually, there is a need to make it compulsory for private sector and real estate developers to add state of the art sports arena into their housing projects.

This would create a healthy environment so that Pakistani people can not only live in healthy cities but also participate in sports activities, paving way for grooming of sportsman and sports women at National and International level.

A key initiative in this regard has been witnessed in form of BlueWorld Sports Valley, which is very close to Islamabad and being placed in the suburban environment.

The idea is to build a sports village of international standards with facilities for diverse sports like cricket, football,cycling, hockey, track and field as well as other sports and present it to people of Pakistan as a new model of development.

The idea has been put into motion under the leadership of MrSaadNazir and his conglomerate partners with an aim of not only providing decent and affordable housing but also encourage sports as well as sports tourism.

Highlights of Sports Valley include state of the art cricket stadium, which will be the largest in Pakistan, with capacity of 55000 spectators inside the stadium and around 25000 people on the Rooftops of surrounding Luxury Apartments of Ground plus 25 Story Sky scrapers shadowing the stadium. A seven-star hotel will be co-located the cricket stadium to house international athletes and players.

Despite Covid and economic challenges faced by Pakistan, the conglomerate is determined to make it a success and present into people of Pakistan as a new model of eco-friendly sports tourism as well as housing.

The flip side of the sports valley would be job creation; thousands of people, who will become part of this enterprise and its construction activity would get jobs, this will propel sustainable development and job creation.

The sports valley will become an iconic community which allows healthy lifestyle, environmental friendly living and reducing pressure on urban areas of Pakistan and encourage corporate Pakistan to come forward and take such initiative so that Pakistan regains her lost glory in international sports arena.

The big question is what can the government of Pakistan as well as provincial governments do to support such initiatives?

There is a need for recognition of such projects and bringing public sector enterprises into it. The government can also help in development of communication network to link these projects with large cities.

The government can also help in minimizing the effects of thered tape and facilitating motivated Pakistani businessmen so that the promise of job creation for youth as well as revenue of housing is met with collaboration of public and private sector.

The uniqueness of this housing project will not only help in projecting a new face of Pakistan but also become beacon of light for corporate enterprises,especially in the real estate development industry.


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