ISLAMABAD - The Pakistan Table Tennis Federation (PTTF) marked the World Table Tennis Day in a befitting manner and conducted the World Table Tennis Day Masters Cup Tournament here Monday.

Top 32 male and 16 top female players from across the country are participating and will be given handsome cash prizes along with medals, certificates. The Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) will provide boarding/lodging, while OGDCL are the title sponsors.

Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) minister Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada was the chief guest, while PSB DG Dr Akhtar Nawaz Ganjera, OGDCL MD Basharat Mirza, DDG facilities Agha Amjedullah, assistant director hostels Malik Imtiaz Hussain, Shahid Baloch, chief organiser and convener of PTTF along with other dignitaries were present there.

An exhibition table tennis match was also played on the occasion between Ramiz and Salman Virk which was won by Salman Virk 3-0. He won by 21-18, 21-17, 21-19 in 55 minutes of highly charged match.

Talking to The Nation, Riaz Pirzada appreciated the PTTF and Shahid Khan Baloch for conducting event successfully and providing table tennis players opportunity to showcase their skills. “In the past, we did make some mistakes as parallel bodies were working and players were not given fair and square chances, but now we have adopted very stiff stance and no one will be allowed to play with the future of the players. I had witnessed the PTTF conducted international table tennis event in Pakistan and it had sent a very positive signal to world especially our neighbors. We must play against Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh and other neighboring countries which will help our players flourish their skills and relations with neighboring countries.”

When asked about the email sent by Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) as it was very humiliating for the entire Pakistani nation, Riaz said: “Off course, Indians never wasted any opportunity to pile misery on us. They misunderstood what the PHF and coach Olympian Shahnaz Sheikh had said. It is true, despite performing exceptionally well in Asian Games and Champions Trophy, boys were not given incentives, which can demoralize the players. I am quite sure Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will soon meet with the PHF officials and players, as we all know the PM is busy in issues of significant importance these days, but having said this, I also agree, hockey need our attention and we will soon arrange their meeting with the PM.”

Riaz completely rubbished the claims made by some certain quarters that hockey team and players were not provided facilities in the PSB. “It is totally incorrect and baseless rather they had been provided best available facilities during the camps and head coach Shahnaz Sheikh, who were in great praise of all such facilities. As we have been facing some difficulties as far as funds are concerned, but soon these issues will be resolved and special grant summary will be provided to the PHF which will clear everything and hockey team will be sent abroad for international matches and other commitments regarding participation in Olympic Qualifiers.”

When this scribe asked Riaz that the sources have claimed that PM Nawaz Sharif is very upset with email by the IHF and a meeting is convened in this regard to appoint an ad-hoc on the PHF and whether some federation officials, as claimed by former greats, are involved in issuance of that email, Riaz termed the reports incorrect and said: “I don't think anyone could dare to do that shameful act. I can confirm that no such meeting has been taken nor the PHF patron is thinking on the lines of appointing an ad-hoc on the PHF. I know the persons sitting in the federation helm of affairs are patriotic Pakistanis and anyone else or I can't challenge their loyalties with the country. The things will be okay very soon.”