The only sport in which Pakistan seems to excel internationally is cricket. Gone is the time when Pakistan were world champions in hockey; they came sixth in the Hockey World Cup 2006. What is the reason for that? More and more people embrace cricket as it can be played almost anywhere. How many fields do we have in which people can freely go and play hockey?
The worrying issue is that the government is paying absolutely no attention to the many complaints that have already reached Dawn and Daily Times. Why then do we still declare Hockey as the national sport of Pakistan when nobody is willing to devote himself or herself to it? Even cricket has been undergoing a slight but steady decline. Whilst people play cricket very often, ninety nine out of hundred times one will see them playing with a “tape ball” (this needs no explanation) on the streets. Playing cricket with a tennis ball is very different from cork ball cricket, which is played internationally(not to mention at high grades of club cricket as well as first class cricket). Playing cork ball cricket requires a field and, of course, we have very few people who can afford daily or even weekly practice in such fields to attain mastery in the sport.
Let us move to the growing sport of football. Sure, a lot of us can access the Khayaban-e-Rahat ground ground very frequently and enjoy the sport more than cricket. But what of the rest (and I dare say majority) of us? There are only three local football grounds in Karachi: The Rahat Stadium, the Aga Khan Football Ground and the KMC Football Ground. All of these three grounds are quite expensive to book. Besides this, due to the lack of fields these grounds are almost always booked and thus not only is it tedious to arrange a football match, but the grass is worn out due to over-usage.
Athletics is another area where Pakistan may prove to be very good at but seeing that there is only the National Coaching centre available to the entire population of Karachi, the chances of Pakistan excelling are very dim. Even swimming is difficult to access. Public swimming pools are so dirty that many are afraid to use them in fear of a skin infection, if not anything worse.
Undoubtedly private clubs such as the Karachi Club or Karachi Gymkhana have excellent sporting facilities. Yet the question is: How many of us have access to them? Membership costs can go up to an incredulous one million Pakistani Rupees(not to mention monthly fees etc) and due to Pakistan being a developing country a small minority can afford it.
The Government must do something about this increasing problem as the population grows each day. Sporting facilities can not only serve as a source of revenue to the government but can also produce sportsmen who can raise Pakistan’s stature in the world of sport as well as providing local people a better, healthier society to live in. If the government does not make such facilities available to all, then many potential world champions will die as commoners which will be a great loss for everyone.
Hasan Abbas FY-M