ISLAMABAD          -           The inaugural ceremony of the five-day long Pakistan Inter Board Sports Boys Gala 2020 conducted here at Jinnah Stadium, Pakistan Sports Complex on Saturday.

Ministry of Information & Broadcasting Secretary Akbar Hussain Durrani graced the event as chief guest, while Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) Acting DG Amna Imran, Director Media M Azam Dar, Employees Union President Ghulam Taqi Khan Bosan and others were also present there. The ceremony was conducted under the supervision of Inter Board Sports Committee Chairman Prof M Yusuf Baloch, who is also Chairman of the Balochistan Education Board (BEB), Coordinator M Ramazan Jamali and Organising Secretary Ghulam Shabir Chana.

In the hockey event, Lahore, Swat and Islamabad boards started the campaign with victories, as Ibraheem scored a hat trick and helped Lahore in beating Mardan 3-1. Swat defeated Karachi board 2-0 in the second match with the help of Abbas Ahmed, who scored both the goals, while Islamabad thrashed Kohat board 5-0 in the third match. Zulqarnain scored a brace, while Aamir Farooq, Badal Mir and Touqeer scored one goal each for the winning team.

In the badminton competition, Lahore, Malakand, Larkana, Faisalabad, Mirpur, Azad Kashmir and Multan boards won their respective matches. Malakand beat Kohat 2-1, Larkana defeated Quetta 2-0, Faisalabad overcame Dera Ghazi Khan 2-0, Multan outplayed Karachi 2-0. Islamabad defeated Quetta board 5-4 on penalty shootout in their football match. In athletics 1500m event, Sargodha’s M Akhtar took the first position, Islamabad’s M Qasim grabbed the second and Gujranwala’s Aftab Hussein third.

Sharing his views, chief guest Akbar said: “I am impressed with the quality, as I was not expecting such passion and display of skills from the youngsters. Despite Islamabad’s cold weather, these young boys showed their class, skills and abilities, which is a clear indication that the country possesses tremendous talent. When I was IPC Secretary, I had toured as chef-de-mission to Nepal and enjoyed the wonderful performance of the Pakistani contingent, who had won 33 gold medals. I do not find any reason for not finding and grooming fresh talent. We will provide facilities, foreign training under top coaches and support to fresh talent.”

Akbar added: “We just lack infrastructure, but we have top coaches and we are ready to invite more top coaches from abroad as well. I also promise training camps for the upcoming Olympics. I had detailed meetings with IPC Minister Dr Fehmida Mirza and found her committed and focused for helping the youngsters. As we have already planned to host the next edition of the SAG Games in Pakistan, we have sent PC-I for improvement and maintenance of our available facilities. Jinnah Stadium’s track will be replaced, while we will also work on different other venues. It is PM Imran Khan’s vision to involve maximum youngsters in sports and provide them opportunities, so that they may achieve their goals and pass on their knowledge to others. I am sure this gala will help us in unearthing fresh talent.”

When this scribe asked Akbar that the Pakistan Taekwondo Federation (PTF) had requested many times to provide them equipments for hosting the G-1 event and SAG Taekwondo Championship this year, but their requests have not been considered so far, as Korean coach has left for Korea due to salary issues and the issue of Haroon’s training abroad has been lingering since long, Durrani replied: “The IPC Minister had promised to help the PTF and other federations as well. The Korean coach’s salary will be released soon and latest equipments will be provided to the PTF as well. As far as Haroon’s training is concerned, we will take every possible step to help him out. I will talk again to the IPC Minister and start working on camps as soon as possible.”