ISLAMABAD - Former Pakistan top badminton player Aneeqa Rana has requested IPC Minister Dr Fahmida Mirza, Secretary Akbar Durrani and Acting PSB DG Arif Ibrahim to start long-term training camps for badminton players, which will help train the players properly and win laurels for the country.

In an interview with The Nation, Aneeqa, who started playing badminton for Pakistan in 2002, said: “I had represented Pakistan in three international events, including the SAG in Bangladesh and also won a number of doubles titles.”

She said that it is unfortunate that Pakistani players were top in the world rankings in late 70s and 80s. “Now the country hardly has any major player at the world scene, which I feel is because badminton is highly expensive sports and we need international matches to improve our world rankings.”

She said: “Pakistan has only one female coach Zarina Jamal, while we all have to work with male coaches. Although in sports, it doesn’t matter whether a female player trains with a male coach or a female, but it does make a lot of comfort for a girl. If she is trained by a female coach, as it is very easy to communicate with a female than a male coach.”

She said that former players don’t want to enter into coaching as there is not much scope in badminton. “If the federation pays heed, invite top coaches, who could train local girls and coaches, it will be in great benefit to Pakistani players and coaches. We need female coaches, who can request parents to send their daughters to play this wonderful sport.”

Aneeqa said: “After Wajid took over the reins of Pakistan Badminton Federation as secretary, the things slightly improve, we start to get international series matches and tournaments in Pakistan, which are very important for our world rankings. But these are not enough as we need more international exposure and more international matches.

“Pakistan number 1 female player Mahoor has spent a lot of money from her pocket and that’s why she is getting better and better, as she is participating in international tournaments. We need more facilities, camps and academies as without establishing academies, we can’t produce quality players,” she added.

She said: “I know, I can still play at the top and can beat any given player, like Palwasha Basheer, who had just played an international tournament final in UAE, we can also scale down new heights, but for that purpose, we need financial support, as everyone can’t afford, I am working with Wapda and played lot of national events for my department, we need to arrange employment for the female players and above all had to work at grassroots level to peruse parents to let their daughters play badminton, as it is played under highly conducive environment.

She said: “We have to visit schools, colleges to ensure more and more fresh talent unearth, we have to organise summer camps during vacations, we have to offer incentives, I am ready to help federation and country in best possible manner, if they need my services both as a player and as a coach, I will love to contribute as Pakistan had given me so much name and fame and today whatever I had achieved as an international player is because of country, I know we had tremendous amount of talent available in Pakistan, the only need is to provide them with opportunities and coach them, they are bound to excel at the very top,” Aneeqa concluded.