ISLAMABAD - Pakistan’s international-famed tennis star Aisamul Haq Qureshi termed the country’s chances as highly bright to win gold medal in the 12th South Asian Games (SAG) in India.
Talking to The Nation, Aisam said: “It is quite shocking that IPC, PSB and Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) are literally doing nothing for the players, nor the government is interested in helping the players financially.”
“When we fail to give satisfactory performances, the entire blame of the defeat is passed onto our shoulders, terming us aging and flopped ones, but when we manage to win laurels for the country, the federation reaps all the benefits. It is quite shocking that the PTF relied on PSB dailies, which is not enough for buying food for three times a day, $20 per day is a disgrace for a player. I am amazed PTF president Salim Saifullah Khan remained unaware of that biter and harsh fact and he only promised to look into the matter after non-playing captain Rashid Malik informed him about the meager amount. “Being international star, I shun all my international commitments not for money and suffer deduction of international points only for the passion of representing my beloved country and putting national interests way ahead of mine personal,” he asserted.
He said in his long career for Pakistan, the PTF had never sent tennis male or female teams for South Asian Games. “It is a golden opportunity for me and Aqeel to win gold medal for the country. I know Indian top players are not representing the host nation, but even then they are very strong and have home, crowd and conditions advantage. Top Sri Lankan players, who were in the USA, also joined Lankan squad, which will strengthen their prospects of doing well in the SAG.”
About Guwati, Aisam said: “I have heard that Guwati is hilly area and climate will suit me and Aqeel’s style of play while the draws will also be another major factor. We have Yasir and Abid, who will play second doubles, while I along with Aqeel will play doubles, singles and mixed doubles partnering with Ushna Suhail. We have highly bright chances of winning in mixed doubles and doubles as well.
“The federation must shun double standards and extend helping hand to the players and pass on the benefits to the players, who perform on field. $160 is not a sufficient enough and I hope Salim Saifullah will come to the rescue and send reasonable cash for the players and officials. Tennis is individual’s game, sometimes one performs well and sometimes it is completely opposite. The way I am enjoying my tennis and Aqeel is also at the peak of his career, I am quite hopeful our long international experience and superb Davis Cup performances in 2015 will defiantly help Pakistan,” he added.
Sharing his views, Aqeel Khan termed Aisam’s presence a blessing for Pakistan squad. “It is very first time that we are playing in the SAG and it will be the ideal platform to perform and win laurels for the country. I will be playing mixed doubles partnering Sarah Mehboob Khan, who is excellent player and our hopes are quite high of winning medals.” He said they had only demand respect nothing else. “The PTF must give us what we had earned through our unmatched results. It is not fair to treat derby horse with normal one. Age has further made us better players and we are improving with the passage of time. The federation should dig deep and find fresh talent who may replace us through their outstanding performances.”
Sharing his views, non-playing captain Rashid Malik has said that his team’s chances depend upon draws which have key factor. “Sri Lankans are very good, as they have the services of best players, while Indians, as always, will enjoy a lot of freedom due to their vast international exposure and home advantage. Even then I am quite sure we will fight for gold and return home holding our heads high.”