job half done
of vision, mission and strategies
The advent of BPL has really comes as a shot in the arm for Bangladesh cricket
By Umair A Qazi
In the wake of last month’s Asia Cup which Pakistan won after much struggle, the Bengal Tigers announced themselves as a threat to reckon with in the cricketing world for times to come. It is no hidden fact that the lack of international cricket in Pakistan has caused the country’s cricket board and the team much loss in terms of player development, team building, and more than anything, financial losses. I lay great stress on finances simply because the more the board has, the more chances of development in terms of a competitive domestic structure which can cause no harm to the system or team whatsoever. Although T20 cricket has been a regular feature of the domestic structure in Pakistan and fans have quenched their thirst for international cricket through watching their own international stars perform, the void created by the lack of an international T20 league somehow seems to have widened.
The Bangladesh Premier league (BPL) which was a hugely successful event, not only financially for the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) but also and more importantly it led to the Tigers being a force in world cricket. The Tigers have been playing international cricket now for more or less 15 years and their track record is nothing to write home about, in fact many a times their status has been called into question due to a string of poor performances and not enough winning results. All these failures can be owed to the lack of competitive and qualitative cricket at home, but the advent of these T20 leagues all over the world featuring some of Bangladesh’s top players has brought about a change sought by the Bengali fans given their immense passion towards the game. The BPL provided the local boys a chance to compete along side international players from all over the world, be competitive, display skill and above all raise their playing standards leading to a more competitive and mature national team which defeated India, Sri Lanka and gave Pakistan a run for their money in the Asia Cup. We surely haven’t seen such competitive cricket by the Tigers since their inception as permanent members barring the one or two upsets in their fifteen-year-old history. The members of this current Bangladesh team have perhaps never been exposed to such high standards of cricket or in simpler words have never been part of a team which has been amongst the top in the world. Hence the BPL gave these players a chance to interact with the best in the world, set the same standards, raise their game, which showed in the Asia Cup that followed. Shakib Al Hasan is probably the only Banladesh player to have played in the IPL and leagues alike and simply for that reason he stood out as their best player even prior to the tournament. What the Bengalis were successful in achieving was team work and since most of their players got the same exposure in the BPL they were able to use the same at national level and surprise many of us viewers although secretly we were almost losing patience with Bangladesh.
This then is perhaps the right forum for an ode to Stuart Law although it is still early days for him and the Tigers may continue to disappoint us in the future but at least for now that sense of purpose instilled in their game is what we are thankful to their coach for. Before dwelling in to the good work done by Law it is important to look at the history of Bangladesh cricket and all those who have tried their hand at making them a competitive team. Dav Whatmore, the current Pakistan coach, is perhaps one man who put in a lot of effort to make the Tigers a competitive force but as with all new teams it takes a while before a team matures and only experience makes them competitive. One argument perhaps that could be put to the ICC would be that of allowing Bangladesh the status of a Test member a little too soon given their performances in the last fifteen years. Whatmore, being an experienced coach and that to a World Cup winning one has shot to fame when Sri Lanka won the coveted title in 1996 but we must not get carried away and think that they were along the same lines as Bangladesh when Whatmore took over. Sri Lanka in 1996 was an established side fielding greats such as Aravinda de Sivle and Arajuna Ranatunga hence any comparison to Bangladesh would be unfair.
Why Law is the right man for the job is because he was a competitive player who represented Australia at the highest level but due to the sheer brilliance of players available to Australia during his playing days he was unable to make a place for himself in the side. However, as that may be the very fact that Law was fairly successful at the county level and field the requisite experience for a team like Bangladesh to be successful, he is the ideal candidate. We must understand that the bigger the coach such as the likes of Whatmore, Kirsten, Arthur etc who have always coached the big sides, the more difficult it is for them to start with novice sides like Bangladesh and hence although I do not take anything away from them and their ability to mould such a side, they are on a slightly higher and different level and it is for this very reason that someone like Law is most apt for the role. He brings to the team a certain level of professionalism associated with any Australian and his willingness to prove himself on the international front to be recognized as one of the best known coaches in the future. It is this dedication which is of utmost importance to Bangladesh which remains a key in them being more competitive in the future and become a force to reckon with. I dearly hope the Tigers are able to continue this form for times to come in order for the betterment and development of international cricket.
writer is a practicing Barrister.
Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) showed their class as Pakistan’s top team when they defended the National Football Challenge Cup title by beating Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) 3-1 in penalty shootout in the final here at the KPT Stadium on March 23.
This was the fourth straight title for KRL, who also have to their credit crowns in 2009, 2010 and 2011. KRL will also defend the title of the Pakistan Premier League, which starts this summer.
Four-time Premier League champions WAPDA, who are yet to wear the Challenge Cup crown, had to be content with a bronze medal when they defeated the 2008 NFCC champions Navy 4-1 in penalty shootout.
For the first time in history, the authorities fielded national Under-19 and Under-16 teams in the country’s second major domestic event. Both of them gave tough time to their opponents. The Under-19 team, which last year had featured in the AFC Under-19 Championship Qualifiers in Iran, failed to reach beyond the quarter-finals stage. But the issue of the inclusion of Under-16 team, which had lifted the SAFF Cup title in Nepal last year, was hotly debated during the event as critics said that the colts should not have been inducted into the domestic event as there were other ways to give them exposure.
Bahawalpur’s Ashraf Sugar Mills did not participate in the competition despite confirming their entry. The PFF should take strict action against them.
The event also missed Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and Habib Bank Limited (HBL) who both are undergoing restructuring process and will be seen in healthier shape in the Premier League following fresh induction of payers.
HBL have fired 15 ageing players and will fill the void by fresh recruitment. PIA could have featured in the Challenge Cup but they skipped it in order to avoid any embarrassing situation.
It was an eventful competition as Police players assaulted referee Irshadul Haq, from Shaikhupura, after he had awarded a penalty to KRL in the league round game. The incident forced the young referee to abandon the match in the 17th minute of the first half at the People’s Sports Complex.
The PFF disciplinary committee then suspended six players of Police for six matches each and also fined them for Rs20,000 each for violating discipline.
KRL as a result were awarded three points and three goals.
The management of different teams criticised the PFF’s decision of not going for a replay of the abandoned match as according to them the technical rules said that in case a match is abandoned due to some reasons it will be replayed.
But on the other hand some critics said that Police team should have been scratched following the incident.
A team manager said that Police were not scratched because PFF wanted to provide the Under-19 team an opportunity to make it to the quarter-finals.
The 15-team event was altogether a fiasco, from organisation point of view as well as in respect of development. Although some young players gave some hope of development to the country with their skills and potential. But the way these players are being handled in their respective departments shows that if departments did not provide better coaching staff to their teams the standard would not rise at all and the country would continue to experience slump in the field.
The coaches handling the teams did not show their class and majority of them even did not know how to plan.
Very few players looked sensible and the finishing of the strikers was disappointing. Unless the basic structure was developed the country would not be able to show their sting even against their South Asian rivals India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Nepal and Afghanistan who are making fast improvement.
Football has turned much technical and the players who lack in technicality and mental toughness cannot prove to be productive for the national team.
The sponsors – Karachi Port Trust (KPT) – had given the PFF Rs2.7 million, but still the event was not organised in the way it should have been. Throughout the league round matches only a single official was seen serving both as match commissioner and referee’s assessor which is against FIFA rules.
It became clear during the tournament that refereeing standard needs more improvement as Navy had to exit in the semifinal because of a poor decision of the referee at a crucial stage against KRL.
The national youth teams were boarded at the PSB Coaching Centre where the boys were bitten by mosquitoes and some of them even had to spend a few sleepless nights without blankets and beds.
The dining hall of the PSB Coaching Centre was also not suitable even for enjoying a cup of tea there because of foul smell.
On the one hand the PFF top brass are of the opinion that the youth teams are their future prospects, but on the other they put them up at a poor place not worth living for the future stars.
The PFF did so in order to save some money. How can PFF hope to realise the dream of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup if they treat tournaments as mere formalities.
Interestingly, two coaches of the Pakistan senior team, Aslam Khan and Gohar Zaman, who were invited by the PFF for assisting the head coach Zavisa for picking players for Under-22 Asian Cup Qualifiers, were given shabby accommodation at the KPT Sports Complex.
It was not the duty of the KPT Sports Wing to provide them accommodation but of the PFF to accommodate the duo at a better hotel.
PFF media manager was also seen running around for accommodation and after staying for a night at the KPT Complex, he went to the PSB Coaching Centre where due to lack of facilities national Under-16 team coach Sajjad Mehmood gave him his bed and opted to sleep on the floor.
The PFF have also stopped releasing monthly stipends to the AID-27 coaches and they have been clearly warned that only those coaches will be given permanent salaries who will work with them for 24 hours and those who are not doing job in departments.
These coaches are now given daily allowances for their services. Most of the AID-27 coaches are not willing to work with the PFF any more unless it reverses its decision.
The PFF also failed to attract media as only a few journalists covered the final game. If the PFF wants to raise their football standard they will have to work extra hard.
Three of the four sides playing at home in the Champions League quarter-final first legs lost their matches. APOEL, Marseille and Benfica face all-but-certain elimination from the competition, with the only exception among the home sides being a surprisingly resilient AC Milan side, who managed to become the first team in almost three years to keep Barcelona from scoring in a Champions League match. The last team to accomplish this feat, and indeed it is a feat, was Rubin Kazan in 2009, and this was the season when Inter Milan knocked them out of the competition en route to lifting the trophy.
Barcelona suffered from Messi having an off day, and the likes of Iniesta and Sanchez, even Dani Alves when he came in off the right wing, could not provide the key to unlocking a compact and resolute Milan back line. Even the fact that they were missing defensive stalwart Thiago Silva did not demoralise the home defence, who were led for two thirds of the game by Nesta, and given adequate cover by an industrious Ambrosini, who patrolled the area in front of the back four, keeping things as simple as you could ask for. Barcelona passed the ball around, but on a relatively dry surface as the San Siro pitch was that evening, they could not build up the kind of rhythm that we are likely to see at the Camp Nou in the return leg. Indeed, Barcelona have even lodged a formal complaint to UEFA, claiming that Milan refused to water the pitch before the match or at half time. This is just petty squabbling over what should not be considered a legitimate right of any side. Playing away from home, sides should be willing to accept that the environment will be something they are not suited to, and as long as this falls within the parameters set out in the laws of the game, there should be no complaints.
As it was, Milan should come away from the match ruing the profligacy of their two key strikers, Ibrahimovic and Robinho. Whatever good the two had done their Champions League reputation was wiped away when they both spurned excellent chances to score. obinho’s volley early in the first half, where he sent the ball into the stands with only Valdes to beat, should haunt him for the horrible attempt it was. Ibrahimovic’s miss was more forgivable in that at least he got the shot on target, but from that distance and arriving into the box at pace, one would rightly expect better from him. Barcelona’s own lack of incisiveness has given Milan a lifeline to take with them to Barcelona, where they can make things very tricky by scoring a single goal. However, if they had made the most of the chances legitimately carved out at the San Siro, they would go with more confidence.
Back in Spain, Barcelona will invite Milan to play on a slick surface, and it will undoubtedly be a case of Milan chasing the ball, and often chasing shadows, around the pitch. Barcelona will score, if only because they must. The longer the tie remains goalless, the more one has to favour Milan, as Barcelona’s aggression may open up the chance to counter attack.
While Barcelona could put out their first eleven on the pitch, Milan were not so fortunate, and the latter will be hoping for the return of Thiago Silva so they can field a stronger defence. Towards the end of the match, a visibly fatigued Alessandro Nesta was substituted out for Djamel Mesbah, the error prone Algerian left back who made a mess of his defensive duties on two occasions, but was lucky to get away both times. The first was a blatant pull on Puyol’s shirt on a corner kick. The Spaniard did manage to get clean contact with the ball and only missed the goal by a short distance, a fact which may have contributed to the referee deciding against awarding a penalty to Barcelona. A short while later, Mesbah made a hash of clearing a lobbed ball into the box, and was helped out by Bonera in preventing Messi from running in on goal. It is still a mystery to this author how a player so obviously lacking in temperament and ability for this level continues to feature in such important games for a club of Milan’s stature. Even before Mesbah’s introduction, Barcelona were having considerable joy attacking down their right flank, with Dani Alves ranking among the top three passers in the Barcelona side. Milan are noticeably weak defending down the left hand side, and this may be exposed yet again in the second leg, especially if Messi has a more productive night than the largely ineffectual one he had in Milan. If Mark Von Bommel cannot return in time for the second leg, all hopes will have to rest on Antonini and Ambrosini putting in another heroic showing, like the one they did in Milan, to keep Barcelona out. Taxing those two so much should not be a plan A.
To the credit of Massimiliano Allegri, the Milan coach, he realised that his approach to Barcelona had to be very different to that against Arsenal, although at half time he was faced with a situation where his side were rarely getting a touch on the ball. Against Arsenal, the Milan coach threw on Aquilani to control the play and move the ball forward, but it was fair to understand that the same would be unlikely against Barcelona anyway, with his midfield already having been run ragged. So Emanuelson came on early in the second half, and even managed to spurn a good chance, having been put through on goal.
As said earlier, the second leg will be interesting, if only for Barcelona’s indubitable desperation to score, while Milan should look to score early on, rather than let Barcelona dictate the play from the outset. Anything else, and Milan will find themselves overrun, as so many other hopefuls have. One thing is for sure; the wastefulness exhibited in the first leg cannot be repeated.
Athletics is considered the mother of all sports, with 47 medal events in London Olympics 2012 in various categories, but unfortunately in Pakistan, it has remained deprived of due attention.
Pakistan has immense talent in this sport as Naseem Hameed, a woman sprinter in 100 meter, proved in the last South Asian Games, where she won the women 100 meter championship. Hameed, from Karachi, was declared the fastest woman of the region.
One can gauge the attention given to athletics in the country by considering that so far 44 national athletic championships have been organised in the country, but never in Karachi, Pakistan’s most important city in all aspects, which is also considered a sports paradise.
But this year, this prestigious event, National Athletics Championship, is going to be held in Karachi in May.
The KMC sports department has recently revived athletic activities in the city by selecting a bunch of talented young and energetic athletes through Karachi’s fastest athlete talent hunt scheme at National Sports Training Coaching Center (NSTCC) a few days back.
Hundreds of enthusiastic athletes, boys as well as girls, from renowned educational institutions thronged the venue of the competition for the year 2012.
The talent hunt attracted more than 400 athletes who were not professionals. KMC organised the event in under-15 and under-25 categories for both boys and girls.
The athletes reached NSTCC early in the morning where municipal commissioner Matnat Ali Khan inaugurated the event.
Vernin Francis of Arena Multimedia won men’s U-25 race with the timing of 11:58, sec. Saleha Belgrami clinched women U-25, with the timing of 14:34 sec.
Both were declared the fastest runners of Karachi in their categories and won Rs25,000 cash awards each.
The runners up were given Rs15,000 and the third position holder got Rs10,000.
M Nehal of St Patrick’s School claimed the first position in U-15 boys race with the timing of 12:50 seconds and Hania
Naveed of Beacon House North Nazimabad clinched the title of fastest girl in under-15 category with the timing of 15:00 sec.
Besides, Riaz Khan and Rana M Nasir were the holders of second and third position, respectively, in men’s U-25 category.
Mahnoor Shahzad of DA Public School and Sania of CAS were the second and third position holders, respectively, of Women U-25 category.
In boys U-15 category, Abdul Moeed of Maneck Govt Boys Secondary School and Waqas Noor of Korangi Acadmey School were declared runners up and third position holder, respectively. In girls U-15 category, Shazia Lakhani and Mehak Akhtar got second and third position, respectively.
The senior director of KMC sports department Rehan Khan said that the result of organising the Karachi’s fastest athlete was immense and “we will try our best to continue the event once in a year so that opportunities of healthy competition are available to young and up coming athletes”. He confirmed that winning athletes would be invited in the summer coaching camps which KMC’s sport department would organise during the June-July vacations under the guidance of senior coaches to discover talent and give them chance to run in provincial and national events.
He further said that soon KMC would organise a big marathon for all Karachiites to promote and encourage sporting and healthy environment in the city and “we will invite all dignitaries and celebrities of the metropolis to participate in the marathon so that the image of Karachi city which got damaged severely due to poor law and order situation is changed”.
Rehan said that the department was also planning a school level athletic competition in the city to promote the discipline. KMC sports department is working out on this program and it might organise the event during the school vacations.
He hoped that due to KMC’s services in sports a talented crop of sportsmen and sportswomen would emerge by the end of the year 2012 as KMC has also organised a number of other sports competitions and dozens are in the pipeline in cricket, hockey, football, badminton, basketball, table tennis, chess, lawn tennis, swimming, bowling, cycling and donkey cart race.
Mother Nature is the best teacher, and we know it well that the rotting always starts from the head of fish. The same is true in our daily life routine. May it be an institution, organization, sport club or the nation, the head or the leader assumes pivotal position in giving the vision and directing the organization either to unprecedented heights or take it to the dark abyss, where humiliation and degradation becomes its fate for ever.
Pakistani sport organizations suffer from double jeopardy. On one hand we lack sports infrastructure, and more than that we suffer from leadership crises. The organizations badly need the men with vision that are visionaries and who can chalk out strategies and give direction to our sports system. It seems that Air Marshal Noor Khan was the last warrior and with his demise the chapter has been closed for once and all.
The vision of our present day sport managers can be easily assessed from the fact that cavalcades are running on expensive athletic track of Jinnah Stadium Islamabad, and the media friendly Chairman PCB can be witnessed at the top of sport pages, receiving archival sniper rifle from MD Bait-ul-Mall in the presence of orphans, thus giving a message to the orphans and rest of the sport world that fire arms now assumes a central place in our mentality and society.
Pakistan sports are indeed confronted with leadership crises. The first challenge for our sport bosses is to disengage from existing traditional frontiers and build their own capacities as well as set up extremely powerful managerial integration mechanisms under their belt, which at the moment seems a far cry because the worthy office bearers in our sport organizations badly lack capability to execute any far reaching vision, strategy, or management concept to develop sport on modern lines in far and near future.
Any serious minded sports professional is likely to lose his or her mind in our sports environment where we lack direction, vision, strategies and goal setting. The sport bosses in Pakistan who are either business tycoons or civil and military burucrates must bear in mind that besides Cricket, Olympic sport organizations belong to the world of nonprofit organizations (NPOs) that is, organizations whose main goal is not financial returns but the performance of their mission.
Nonprofit organizations constitute the bulk of sport organizations from the local sport clubs to the national and international federations and the International Olympic Committee. The FIH (Federation Internationale de Hockey) finalized its strategic plan in Nov 2000, following a highly successful Olympic tournament at Sydney Olympic Games. Founded in 1908 the FIH felt the need to trace “the path ahead for the early part of twenty-first century”. This work was carried out by a commission with the help of consultants and on the basis of a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis.
The strategic plan begins in a classical way by a reformulation of the FIH’s mission: “The FIH is the world governing body for hockey. Our primary objective is to encourage, promote, develop and administer hockey at all levels in order to maximize participation, standards, enjoyment and community involvement. This mission is explained further with the help of a vision – Our picture of the future”.
The vision is then supported by clearly expressed values: like the well being of our athletes. A positive gender inclusive image. Fair-play, safety and integrity. The Olympic movement and its ideals. A consultative, creative approach to the development of hockey and at last an efficient and effective administration. The FIH than proposes “strategic priorities” based on the SWOT analysis.
Many other thriving international sport organizations like International Volleyball Federation (FIVB), International Paralympic Committee, World Anti Doping Agency (WADA), Irish Sports Council (ISC), Zimbabwe Olympic Committee, Olympic Solidarity and Olympic Council of Malaysia have clearly stated vision, mission and strategies and a team of professional sport managers to execute them to precision.
If we take a look at the IAAF (International Association Of Athletics Federations) that adopted a remarkable vision in 2003, stating that IAAF should ensure that Athletics remains at the forefront of the world’s sporting community and maintains its position as the ultimate embodiment of the spirit of sport by offering all people the greatest opportunities to participate at all levels, providing the greatest possible spectacle to the public and the media, thereby developing its long-term appeal and values.
This vision statement was not crafted by any gold medal winner athlete but deliberated by sport management guru, who aligned the IAAF vision with the Olympic movement mission that emphasizes using sport at the service of the harmonious development of man, with a view to encouraging the establishment of a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity, by educating youth through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.
The Irish Sports Council (ISC) is another excellent example of spelling out the correct vision statement and key strategic initiatives from which we can learn a lesson. The ISC was established in July 1999 to a high degree of expectation among Irish sport bodies in general. Its mission is to plan, lead, and coordinate the sustainable development of sport in Ireland. The ISC was immediately challenged to spell out its strategy to Minister of sport and tourism and in return to the sporting public. This was achieved through consultation with ISC partners, colleagues in relevant government departments, local authorities and the public in the form of a comprehensive document titled, “A New Era for Sport: The ISC Strategy 2000-2002” that clearly spells out the vision, priorities, core values and key strategic initiatives.
The vision is usually a long term goal and the mission is the reason for the organization to exist, where as objectives are what we want to achieve in practical but not too detail terms. The notion of vision and mission are extremely close to each other and sometimes mistaken for each other. A mission gives the “big idea” of the organization. It should help share the organization’s dream. The mission must serves three purposes: pinpointing a sector of activities, motivating the donors/ stakeholders, and helping to evaluate the success of the organization.
In the new context of changing economic, cultural, political and social system, sport is being developed around the globe, providing an extraordinary opportunity to discover and take advantage of the sports experience of other countries, and in doing so, to improve the management of own sport organizations.
One of the greatest challenges for our sport bodies is ensuring that their current and future managers have the necessary skills to lead their organizations in twenty-first century. In order to function most effectively, sport organizations require an increasing comprehension of international sport issues, in addition to those of strategic management, performance, marketing, and human resources. Our inability to do so will only result in production of glorified clerks capable of signing pay rolls and nothing else.
Thus our sport needs managers from within its ranks who can plan their organization’s strategy and steer its performance. With our present education standards and the kind of human resource employed in the sport structure, no one expects that our sport leaders, with exception to few, would have ever heard the names of greats like Napoleon, Sun Zu, Clausewitz or Jomini. Strategic planning in sport is nothing more than an oxymoron for them, because we live in a sports culture where even serious business like coaching is nothing more than fun.
The importance of a well thought and laid out strategy was beautifully described by Mintzberg, one of the best known authors on management in his famous article published in the Harvard Business Review that appeared in 1987. Mintzberg compared a manager to a potter whose clay is the strategy that he wishes to shape for his organization. This metaphor permitted Mintzberg to show that formulating and achieving a strategy, like creating a piece of pottery, flow into each other in a fluid process of creative apprenticeship. Similarly to Mintzberg, could we perhaps compare a manager to the coach of a sport team whose game plan constitutes the strategy envisaged?
For the last twenty years or so, high level athletes have no longer been amateurs in the sense of dabblers. They have become professionals. The same must be true of sports administrators and policy makers who nowadays manage considerable human, financial and material resources, and have great responsibilities such as educating young people, public health and social inclusiveness through sport.
Confronted with such changing environment the Olympic committees and other major sport bodies have progressed from an administrative logic to a marketing approach and then to a strategic one. The strategic and performance management approach aims to define a project, to structure it in a way that will permit it to be successful, and then to evaluate it once it is completed in order to draw useful conclusions for the continuation of project or development of new ones.
Like Pakistan few other developing countries also suffer from the dilemma of poor management system in sports organizations. A network of European universities supported by Olympic Solidarity designed a wonderful program in 1995 by the name of MEMOS (Executive Masters in Sport Organization Management) to improve upon the management of sport organizations and provide a higher level of training for sport managers.
Pakistan sports system is suffering badly due to the absence of proper sport management academic pursuit in the public or private universities and this situation is not likely to improve in foreseeable future. The mega sport bodies like POA, PSB, PHF, PSF and others can therefore reap rich benefits from such program at the strategic level and become part of the Olympic learning community that is able to gather, formalize, implement, and disseminate the sport specific management knowledge needed for the institutionalization of sports in the country.
Olympics is the biggest event in the world of sports, where not only medals but even featuring is considered a great feat. However, it is also very depressing when in spite of having all the firepower required to secure a berth in the mega-event, other unimportant people around, fail you.
For what could have been a life-long treasure for Pakistan badminton’s top doubles pair of Rizwan Azam and Kashif Sulehri –the dream of securing a berth in Olympics has turned into a bitter memory.
“Not far but only a year back we were looking forward to make a history for Pakistan by becoming first badminton team to appear in Olympics for the country,” lamented Rizwan Azam in an interview with ‘The News on Sunday’.
The duo of Rizwan and Kashif –after appearing in a few tournaments improved their rankings to 52nd place in the world in 2010. Rizwan and Kashif won the doubles title in Maldives international Badminton Challenge 2010 held in May 2010. Later in the year, the duo won the doubles title in Syrian International Series.
Aamer Hayat Khan Rokhri, the late Pakistan Badminton Federation (PBF) secretary, once said that the duo only needed to feature in around three or four more international tournaments with a forceful show in order to qualify for London Olympics.
With two international titles in 2010, the duo bettered their rankings to 52nd in the world. Potentially, if they had appeared in few more tournaments and put some good show, they could have easily found a berth in Olympics 2012.
However, only sixteen doubles pair appear in men’s doubles event in Olympics. And securing a place among top-16 pairs for Olympics seemed exaggerated.
But Rizwan argued that countries like China, Japan or Indonesia have a lot of doubles teams among top sixteen but only one team could be featured in the Olympics from one country.
“Taking this fact into consideration, countries like Pakistan can get a wild card entry if a team secures place even in top 40. Teams among top 30 normally could get a direct berth and I believe we could have dashed into top 30 easily had we played few more international tournaments,” Rizwan said.
But a ban on Pakistan by Badminton World Federation (BWF) came as shocking blow for the duo.
“Everyone is working for their interest and they don’t even think what harm they are doing to the country and the players,” said the frustrated Kashif Sulehri.
Actually before the ban, two badminton federations were working in Pakistan and one of them complained to the BWF that the other federation was involved in human-trafficking. BWF in response banned Pakistan and asked to resolve first its internal issues and come up with a single body.
However, instead of resolving the issue, both the federations are entangled in an endless legal battle. If one wins a case the other takes a stay and vice versa.
But the brunt of it is endured by the players, who due to the BWF ban could not participate in international tournaments.
“When we could have done something great for the country, our own people failed us,” lamented Kashif.
Rizwan has turned 27 and Kashif 26 and if they ever had a chance to make it the Olympics arena then it had been London Olympics 2012.
But there is no chance left for the players to qualify now even if the issue resolves and BWF lifts the ban as only four months are left before the Olympics begins.