RAWALPINDI -

Pakistan produced so many international stars in almost every sporting field and Taekwondo is also one of the sports in which Pakistan male and female athletes, despite limited resources, earned laurels for the country.

In an exclusive interview with The Nation, country's brightest future and international medal hope Najia Khan, who represented country in -73kg middleweight category both at national and international levels, was full of confidence that females were not less than males, when it came to winning laurels for the country.

Najia, against the advice of the doctors, participated in the 9th Korean Ambassador Taekwondo Championship and won gold medal for her department Army and was also declared the best female athlete.

Sharing her views, Najia said: “I had a severe problem in my leg and the doctors advised me to take complete bed rest for four months, but it was my dream to not only to participate in the main events but also try to win medals for my department. I was playing with one leg in the entire event, but self belief and hard work paid dividend and I managed to fulfill my dream.”  She said there were five to six very talented female players and if they were given international exposure and training and provided with proper facilities, they could in return bring laurels for the country at international level.

Najia, 23, who have participated in five international events and also attended a training course in Korea, has won one silver and two bronze medals for her country at Korean and Commonwealth Games in India. She also has won seven gold medals in national championships. “It is my wish to win gold medal for the country in the 2014 Asian Games, but this dream can come true only if I will be provided with six-month training in Scotland under the worlds best coach TK Low of Indonesia and it is my promise if the POA, the PSB and Army Sports Directorate manage my training at Scotland, I will not disappoint the country and win a medal at the Asian Games.”

Sharing his views, Shah Adil, 25, who represented country in -87 middle weight category and was deprived by the Iranian officials of the bronze medal in Asian Games in 2012, was very optimistic about the male players chances in the Asian Games. Adil won bronze medal in SAF Games in 2010 and also wanted to win more medals for the country. But he also needs special attention of the POA and the PSB to acquire training in Scotland. “If provided with an opportunity to train there, I will win medal in Asian Games.”

Another young lad from Fata Syed Afnan Shah, 23, had won two gold medals in the national championships and also represented Army at SAF Military Games in Nepal and Vietnam. Unfortunately, he failed to win any medal but his performances were eye-catching.

 “Fata is blessed with natural talent and there is an urgent need to pay attention to that region, as sports can play a significant role in curbing the militancy and youth could be utilised in healthy sporting activities,” Afnan said.

“We have requested provincial Fata associations to arrange training camps but no heed was paid. It is my humble request to governor KPK to play his due role in arranging sporting activities in Fata. I have detailed conversations with the youth of my area and they are willing to turn their attentions to sports, but the non-active role of the associations is the big hurdle in their way,” he added.

PTF secretary Col Waseem Ahmed Janju said: “I have talked to the Fata Taekwondo Association (FTA) secretary to arrange camps. I will personally visit the camps and also take top players with me. I have donated a mat to the FTA worth Rs five million and I am quite hopeful that Fata posses great talent but the only need is to provide them proper platform where they may showcase their skills and play their due role in helping the country winning laurels at international level.”

“The PTF despite a meager annual grant and limited recourses has done a really wonderful job keeping in mind how expensive this sport is, but it is the time government should think seriously about other sports too. This individual sport can guarantee at least five to six medals from single individual unlike of other sports, which can only ensure one medal. Neglected sports need urgent attention of authorities concerned otherwise youth will only prefer to play cricket or to some extent hockey while all the other sports will die due to lack of interest,” Waseem concluded.