Articles of the year 2005

Future of Sports in Pakistan
Published on June 17th, 2005

Historically Sport has been the showcase for the youth of a country to run faster,longer,jump, higher further, than his competitors--for himself and his country. In peace time this was the preferred manner of showing a country's superiority. ( A case in point would be the 1936 Olympics where the much touted Aryan supremacy showcased by the Third Reich was so badly exposed by the legendary Jesse Owens.) These activities were encouraged to improve the human species, and to produce better hunters and soldiers. These competitive pursuits were used by the Govt of the day to showcase their political agendas. Govts may not have fallen over a lost football match, but the political fallout could certainly rattle the cages.In the last century we saw the transition from the amateur status, where it had been the Rich who could indulge in the pursuits of leisure sports, and the Poor who could not afford the time or the funding for something that had no financial reward The Olympic Games were a preserve of the rich and the privileged. However the money started flowing in when TV appeared on the scene.And as the other sports realized that the financial rewards were huge, the age of professionals had begun. With Imran's winning the World cup, the whole country rejoiced , and we had entered the big league. Cricket was being played in every street and anywhere . It was no longer only the boys from Aichison college or Lawrence College, but the streets of Pakistan produced the new wave of heroes. Wasim Akram ,Waqar Yunus, Javed Miandad., These are but a few of the stars that emerged and fought their way to the financial rewards that would have been unthinkable 50 years earlier. Even today, Inzamam and Shoaib cannot converse in English, they express themselves eloquently enough with bat and ball. The streets of Pakistan are almost like Brazil in the number of impromptu taped ball matches being played at any given time. Squash will need a far greater commitment from the newcomers, for, in not having the huge technical advantage enjoyed by Hashim Khan and lastly Jehangir, the new boys do not have the commitment for hard work to build their stamina.I still remember Jonah Barrington telling us how he would run 3 miles every day at 4am every morning through the streets of London. That hard work gave him the World Championship of Squash till he was beaten by Geoff Hunt who did his 3 miles a day on the beach in sand.! These two greats showed that hard work can and will win.

For Sports to flourish in Pakistan, we need to bring glamour into play. The achievements of Beckham on the football pitch have been amply rewarded off the pitch. His following of fans is far far greater than his wife's who started as the bigger star, but is nowhere near as famous. TV should be used to reach out to the masses of the poor youth, that this is one way out of the poverty trap, and the streets of Lyari, can produce international players. The role of glamour, stardom, cannot be overemphasized. Can you imagine Beckhams mother complaining to her husband--- " look at young David, he'll not amount to much, all he does is play football." Today it is his wife Victoria who looks up to him as the superstar. It must be emphasised that sports is the way out of the poverty trap, for us Cricket has been lucky, and the imagination of the youth is fired up so that we can expect more batsmen, speedsters and spinners. With the number of children caught up in the game we have more talent than we know what to do with. Sport is to be considered as an economic pursuit with all the care and planning that goes with it. The procurement of raw material, the training, polishing, then the final test , with all the hype and marketing to fill the arena, and to reap the reward. It is all big business, and cannot be left to the Govt. bureaucrat.