ISLAMABAD    -   Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) Minister Dr Fehmida Mirza has come forward and directed to start training camps for the 13th South Asian Games (SAG), scheduled to be held in Kathmandu, Nepal from December 1 to 10.

The IPC Minister had taken serious notice of The Nation’s story regarding Pakistan Sports Board’s (PSB) failure to start camps for the SAG. While talking to The Nation, the IPC Minister promised: “The camps will start without any delay and the PSB will provide every facility, including accommodations, meals and tracksuits. The delay was not on the part of the IPC Ministry, as it was PSB officials’ duty to send request for provision of funds and schedule for training camps. I am always a call away. Despite hectic routine, I visit the PSB, invite PSB Acting Director General Amna Imran and other officials to the IPC Ministry and pass directives on regular basis. I had given clear directives to all the PSB affiliated federations to send details regarding starting of camps, but the federations kept the matter pending. People must understand that the PSB is a facilitator and the federations are required to coordinate with the board. I had given orders to the PSB DG to ensure top class facilities for the athletes. It is the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan to provide best facilities and chances to the youth for winning medals for the country.”

“The successful holding of the 33rd National Games was made possible due to the support of the Central and KP governments.

My doors are always open for the federations and athletes. We had spent millions from our own resources to upgrade the PSB facilities. Now it is athletes’ job to pay back in the best possible manner and give their hundred percent,” Fehmida concluded.

While sharing his views, PSB Director Media Muhammad Azad Dar said: “The training camps of beach volleyball, taekwondo, kabbadi, badminton are already underway at the PSB, which is facilitating the athletes, coaches and officials at all the main centers. We have more than 50 athletes and officials along with coaches here and we are providing them everything. They will continue the camp till their departure. The 305-member Pakistani contingent will take part in the 13th SAG in Nepal and the members will depart in patches as per schedule.

The federations use delaying tactics and keep matters pending despite our several reminders. When the things get out of their hands, they start blame game. The federations should come up with clear plans instead of criticising and becoming tools for others. We are always there to help them out. Ever since Dr Fehmida Mirza has taken the charge of the IPC Ministry, she has been very serious about the standards of sports and taking personal interest. She had made it very clear that she will not compromise on quality and respect of the athletes.”

It is strange that Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) President Lt General (R) Syed Arif Hassan and his blue-eyed persons are always ready to criticise the government, PSB and IPC Ministry, but they are never ready to accept the harsh reality that Arif is dealing the affairs for the last 16 years. Arif is hardly present in the country, as he has developed his personal contacts in the IOC. He always use the IOC ban as a tool to blackmail the governments and PSB. But he never accepts that he is the one, who is responsible for the decline of sports in the country. Sending home Arif and his close aides, who are sitting in the POA since long, is the one and only solution available to improve sports in the country.