ISLAMABAD    -   Pakistan Special Olympics Association (PSOA) Chairperson Ronak Lakhani has sought the support of government and private sector for special athletes, who are preparing for the upcoming mega events.

In an interview with The Nation on Monday, Ronak said: “I just want our federal and provincial governments as well as private sector to lend us a helping hand. We just want them to recognise special talent and provide them facilities. We have number of friends, who always come forward to help us in the best possible manner. But without the support of government and corporate sector, we can’t provide these athletes their due right.

“People like Dr Fahmida Mirza are very important for us, athletes and parents. Let me assure you all that with the IPC Minister’s support, the future of our special athletes is quite bright. I hope the provincial sports ministers and multinationals will also play their due roles and help the PSOA, as it is our national and moral duty to support these special kids.

“We don’t do much for financing the special athletes, as our aim is to train them and make them acceptable for the society. I am happy with my role, as I can see special athletes are going to next level. I don’t bother, who is coming and who is not, I just want to work and help these special kids in best possible manner,” she added.

The PSOA chairperson said that the mega international events are round the coroner. “We held five camps for special athletes. Winter Games 2021 in Sweden and Summer Games 2023 in Berlin are our main targets and we are preparing fresh pool of players for these events. The basic aim of conducting the first Quaid-e-Azam Special Games was to detect fresh talent, groom them for next three years and help them become top players.”

The first Quaid-e-Azam Games for physically challenged athletes were held here at Pakistan Sports Complex last week. Although it was the first of its kind, yet it was a massive success. “I salute Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) Minister Dr Fahmida Mirza for her all-out support and cooperation for the event. She already had lot of understanding about sports, when I met her and requested about holding the event for the special athletes, she not only provided venues, accommodation, food and technical officials, but also arranged cash prizes, medals and certificates for the athletes.

“Therefore, cash prizes of more than Rs 6 million were distributed amongst the special athletes, which was never happened before. I also would like to thank Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) Director General Arif Ibrahim, who helped us whole-heartedly to make the event a success,” she added.

Ronak said: “I am associated with the PSOA for last 33 years in different capacities. I took over the role of chairperson three years back. I seriously feel that we don’t need to hold offices to help deserving athletes and contribute to finance them for participation in international events. We went to the UAE Games in March this year with 95 athletes, 27 coaches and three officials and utilised every single penny for that purpose.

“We had Summer Games and Winter Games for special athletes after every four years. Last year, we conducted national games for special athletes and run the event throughout the year. Every year, we send coaches to different schools and cities and involve special athletes in healthy activities. We prepare fresh pool of athletes for every mega event, as it helps us find fresh talent and provide opportunity to newcomers for representing the country and earn good name for them,” she concluded.