Financial issues force PBF to announce small squad for Olympic qualifiers

From Abu Ukasha
KARACHI: The federal government continues not to back national athletes in their Olympic bids and boxing is the lattest casualty of the stance of the ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC).
Due to lack of support from the federal government and reluctance of the corporate sector to back Olympic sports, Pakistan Boxing Federation (PBF) on Thursday decided to only send three boxers and one coach for the Asia and Oceania Olympic Qualifying round which will begin in Jordan’s capital Amman from March 3.
The PBF wanted to send a full-fledged squad to Jordan but financial issues and lack of sponsors hurt its cause.
The federal government even did not provide facilities to national fighters for training. National pugilists had to train for a couple of months at the Army Sports Complex Rawalpindi.
The PBF early this month had also requested Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) to provide hostel facilities to national fighters in Peshawar so that they could train in a different environment for a few days but the Board did not respond.
This correspondent tried to contact senior officials of the PSB but they were not available for comments.
The Asia and Oceania qualifiers are very important. There was a need of fielding a full-fledged squad which could have boosted the country’s qualifying chances for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“Yes we aimed to field more boxers but could not do so as sponsors also did not back us despite hectic efforts,” PBF secretary Col Nasir Tung told ‘thecricketplus.com’ on Thursday.
“Now we have decided to send three boxers including Syed Mohammad Asif (52kg), Gul Zeb (69kg) and Mehmood-ul-Hasan (75kg) in the Jordan qualifiers. Arshad Hussain will be accompanying the squad as coach,” Nasir said.
He also revealed that the squad will leave for Jordan on March 1. Nasir also skipped the Asian boxing forum slated to be held on March 6 on the sideline of the qualifiers to ensure boxers’ presence in the qualifiers.
“I have managed some money from my own pocket and borrowed some from friends to ensure Pakistan’s participation in the event,” Nasir said.
“We have done our best what we could do with the available resources and still I am hopeful positive results would come,” Nasir said.
However he was quick to add that it all would depend on the draws.
“If we got good draws then the things could go in our favour,” Nasir said. In the 52kg there are six seats at stake while in the 69kg and 75kg there are five seats up for grab.
The qualifiers are being contested in eight weight categories. National boxers also have a chance of pressing for Olympics seats when they will feature in the  World Qualifying round to be held in Paris in May.
This certainly did not happen only with boxing when state refuses to sponsor the elite fighters in their Olympic bids. The country’s leading karateka Saadi Abbas is fighting for Olympics seat without the assistance of the state. Australia-based horse-rider Usman Khan and Olympian judoka Shah Hussain also don’t have state patronage.
The inability of the IPC Ministry to run sports has also dented Olympics chances of the country’s top wrestlers. Since the government of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) emerged in summer of 2018 Pakistan’s sports graph has experienced a huge decline. Even due to lack of finances Pakistan skipped the Asian qualifiers for volleyball despite having qualified for the event.
So far five players in different disciplines have made it to the Olympics to be held this summer in Japan.