By Raza Ruman
(Pak Destiny)Pakistan Railways had to some extent been considered as the nursery of Pakistan sports but for the last couple of years this nursery under Khwaja Saad Rafique has failed to raise a single national level set aside provide the country an international level player. Nearly all the top class players of the past were the product of Pakistan Railways who later served other departments of the country.
But now it seems Wapda has taken over the task to be the main source of providing the country with quality sportspersons. It has rather taken lead over from Army even.
Pakistan Railways is the only department that has greater number of facilities and land to provide base to sports but either its policy-makers have outdated mindset or their implementers did not have enough capability to get the department to the level it has enjoyed in the past in sports. Like its rusted engines their sports officials too seem have rust got filled in their joints. Or the real sportspersons are not been preferred over the favourites being obliged in the sports department.
Railways has raised its sports fund from Rs 8 million to more than Rs 20 million. In the views of Pakistan Railways Sports Board vice president Dr Farhan Ibdat Khan their minister has very clear instructions and thoughts of determination to raise the standard of Railways sports.
Ibadat stated that Railways sports will be brought to the same past level of glory. However the fact is clear that deputation for having unrelated officials in the sports department is one of the major causes of Railways sports decline. It seems Railways hospitals are overflowing with doctors that was why some of them are deputed in sports here. Though the budget has been raised in millions but Railways has in the recent years did not win a single gold medal in any of the sport it has under its wings. They have the players but are not being coached properly. It has contracted fresh cricketers and their coach is a trainer whose actual job is to see the fitness of the players when the actual coach plans and formulates strategy for the match.
Even some of the retired officials are still occupying seats or trying to get extension to prolong their stay in the sports department with a reason they do nothing and are also not being asked with no accountability.
Its minister Saad Rafiq is too busy these days in the political manipulation to take notice of the sports decline. Last year he took notice of an incident occurred during a sports event when some students from Karachi were expelled out of the Railways Stadium. Interestingly no student was allowed in the stadium during this year’s Railways Athletics Meet to avoid repeat of the previous year’s slogan-mongering.
Even its president Mohammad Tahir is concerned about the state of its sports and irrelevant officials occupation but he believes that things have started to improve and will be giving his recommendations soon for improvement.
Ibadat said that he has complete support of Saad Rafiq for his sports development programme. “There has been great improvement made in the Railway Stadium cricket ground and now we wish to hold first class matches as it has better equipped than the LCCA ground.
“We are also in talks with Punjab government and sports board for laying of new austro turf at its hockey ground,” he said and added that they are also trying to provide best possible facilities to the players to have results at the national as well as international level.
He further stated that their players are already making name at the national and international level. He agreed about Railways sports glorious past and now they are on their path for the same glory. “We had been in the forefront in sports and will be working with same vigour for even better performance for the department and the country alike,” he added with a belief that Railways will keep playing its role in every sports including cricket as they have also asked Pakistan Cricket Board to further improve its Grade II standard.
Despite all the efforts and spending millions by its sports board the Railways has zero result in major sporting events and no one knows how much more time it will take for improvement.