MINGORA (Swat): Nearly Rs172 million spent on the KP-U23 Games, 2017 failed to tap the potential of over 5000 players in district Swat owing to its spending on ‘irrelevant’ events rather than on proper sports trainings, say officials of the sports association.

The data obtained from the district Swat sports office reveals that 227 sportsmen participated in 20 games– hockey, football, basketball, volleyball, badminton, table tennis, lawn tennis, tug-of-war, kabbadi, squash, judo, karate, wrestling, athletics, gymnastics, swimming, cycling, snooker, taekwondo and wushu while 178 sportswomen took part in 15 games from district Swat in the KP U-23 Games, 2017.

“The KP sports directorate provided Rs 50,000 for the trials to select players of the games in Swat and Rs 80,000 was allocated for the logo ceremony,” Abdul Salam Swat sports officer said.

However, sports associations in Swat termed the game a waste of money and said it failed to promote sports and tap the talent at grass root level.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Badminton Association president Zafar Ali Kaka said that for the promotion of sports proper trainings were essential rather than a hugely funded one or two days sports shows.

“I don’t know that how can a two days sports-show help improve sports talent in the province. Majority of the tournaments took two to three hours in the KP U-23 Games, 2017 which was nothing but a joke,” he said, adding, “If the KP government and the sports board honestly spent the money on the promotion of the sports by initiating proper training programmes and polishing the talent on grass root level, I am sure that in the coming national games KP would win all the games.”

He said the funds were not utilized on the promotion of sports but rather spent on logo-showing ceremony, opening and concluding ceremonies “The sports board must focus on the talent of every game at district levels to bring out the best players from each district in the province. Consequently, out of all the players coming from districts, select a pool of best players on a provincial level and organize proper trainings for them,” he suggested.

Similarly, KP Gymnastic Association secretary Rafiquallah also said that the KP government and sports board must work on provision of sports facilities and tapping the talent.

“Swat district has high potential for gymnastic as Swat gymnastic team remained 11 times runner up in the KP gymnastic championship and our gymnastic players, Muhammad Ihsan, Imran Khan and Waqas Khan have won gold medals in different national and provincial games?) but unfortunately we don’t have professional equipment and venues for the game,” he told Truth Tracker.

He said gymnastic association repeatedly asked the KP government and sports board to provide gymnastic equipment and grounds as despite big talent Swat had no government ground for the game in “We repeatedly asked the government to provide us gymnastic foams parallel bars, high bar, still rings, floor exercise, vault, pommel horse but the sports board provided only one foam for the entire district,” he said.

He said he had more than 200 gymnastic players registered in Swat and many more wanted to be registered but lack of grounds and professional equipment was the hindrance to tap the talent.

“The government, instead of providing facilities and taping the talent spending huge money on shows which can never promote sports in the province,” he said.

District Swat has not a single young tennis player and those who represented the district in the KP U-23 Games for the last two years were actually picked up from other games just to fill in the blanks.

The sportsmen who played tennis representing district Swat in the last two U-23 events said there was only one tennis court in Swat which remained occupied by officers and aged players and where young players were not allowed to play the game.

“We usually play badminton instead of tennis because we don’t have any other tennis court in the district except the one in Swat Sports Complex where we cannot not play tennis because the court remains occupied by senior players during the practice timing,” said Bilal Khan who played tennis tournament in the last two U-23 events for Swat, adding that there was also not a proper coach or trainer for tennis in Swat.

He said the government, first, construct tennis courts in Swat and train youngsters, and then organize competition events.

Officials of the sports associations also complained of rules violations and mismanagement during the event.

Gouhar Shah who runs a cricket academy in Swat went with the baseball and hand ball teams as a coach to participate in the KP U-23 Games, 2017 said many same players played in different games but the organizers did not take action against them.

“I personally caught many players who represented their districts in basketball, baseball, handballs and also in other events about which I informed the management committees and sports board officials but they ignored my complaints,” Shah told Truth Tracker.

Officials who conducted the event said that many of the girl teams and some of the boy teams from district Shangla did not participate in the KP U-23 Games 2017 yet their daily allowances and uniforms were shown distributed.

“Girl players belonging to Swat district illegally represented district Shangla. Similarly, girl players who represented district Shangla in Judo also played Tug-of-war while boys judo team did not participate in the event but their kits, shoes and daily allowances were taken by the related officials,” said an official demanding anonymity because he said he was officially not allowed to talk to media.

Sportsmen in Swat said that competitions organized in the KP U-23 Games also lacked management and fairness where the management tried to finish events in haphazard way.

“When I watched the various advertisements about the KP U-23 Games, 2017, I thought the competitions would be well organized and well managed but in the ground the organizers pushed us to play fast and finish,” said Faisal Khan badminton player.

Sportsmen and sports association stressed on the KP government to organize professional trainings for them so that sports talent could be improved and they could play on national and international levels.

Swat district sports officer Abdul Salam said that the KP-U23 Games were highly beneficial for sportspersons as they found opportunities to compete on regional level and then on provincial level to show their talents and get awarded.

“As far as training programmes are concerned we are in the final phase of establishing sports complexes and grounds where soon we will initiate sports trainings for different games,” he told Truth Tracker.

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