ISLAMABAD - Murad Ali and Amir Saeed got off to flying stars in the $9000 Pakistan International Series Badminton Tournament 2017, which started here at Liaqat Gymnasium on Thursday.

Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) Minister Riaz Pirzada graced the occasion as chief guest while PSB Director General Akhtar Ganjera, DDG Administration Mansoor Ahmed, DDG Facilities Agha Amjedullah, Assistant Director Hostels Malik Imtiaz Hussian, Pakistan Badminton Federation (PBF) secretary Wajid Chaudhry and others were also present on the occasion.

Total 8 countries, including hosts Pakistan, are taking part in the mega event, which include 6 players and a coach from Afghanistan, 2 players from Cambodia, 2 players and a coach from Maldives, 1 player each from Syria and Sri Lanka, 5 from Turkey and 2 from Vietnam while from hosts nation, 25 male and 4 female players will be seen in action in the three-day championship.

Former Pakistan champion Murad Ali beat Vietnam’s Quang Dinh tran 2-0. Murad was enjoying tremendous crowd support, while local players and coaches were also right behind him. Murad started the first game on a whirlwind fashion, winning it 21-9. His powerful smashes and drop shots helped him take the second game 21-12 to give perfect start to host nation.

In the second match of the day, another national champion experienced Amir Saeed thrashed Cambodian Chanmara Tep 2-0. Amir took the first game 23-21 after facing some stiff resistance from the international opponent. Amir settled down well in the second game and won it 21-14. Another Pakistani Awais Zahid defeated Enis Sesalan of Turkey 2-1. After going down in the first game 15-21, Awais bounced back in style to win the next two games 21-15 and 21-18.

M Muqeet Tahir of Pakistan beat countryman M Rizwan 21-9 and 21-16. Le Thanh Lam of Vietnam beat Zohaib Khan Khalil of Pakistan 21-17, 21-8. Azeem Sarwar beat Hussein Shaheed of Maldives 21-9, 21-11 while Duc Phat Le of Vietnam beat Anjum Bashir of Pakistan 21-13, 21-15. The morning matches will start at 9am.

Earlier speaking on the occasion, IPC Minister Riaz Pirzada said that such events will help in improving Pakistan’s image. The country has started hosting international events gradually and soon more and more events will be hosted by Pakistan. He welcomed all the international players and officials and assured them of all-out support in Pakistan. “Arrival of foreign players is a sign of great encouragement to our national players,” he said. The minister said all the sports facilities are available in Pakistan Sports Complex and it is his desire that all the sports facilities must be in accordance with the international standards. He invited all sports federations to hold national and international championships at Pakistan Sports Complex.

Pirzada hoped that the national players would benefit from this championship and foreign players would bring with them good image of Pakistan. He also appreciated Pakistan Badminton Federation and Pakistan Sports Board for organising the international badminton championship in such befitting manner. He was full of praise for the media for portraying the positive and sports-friendly image of the country and requested them to give special coverage to badminton event.

The minister said that sports activities are underway in the country and the performance of national players is improving day by day. “Promotion of sports is our top priority and we want to enhance funding for sports federations. All the federations should abide by the rules and regulations in true letter and spirit.”

Pirzada said that on the directives of the Prime Minister, the sports task force would be formed soon. “We have to give time to traditional sports revival as well. Unless the ban is lifting from hosting fairs in towns and villages, we can’t involve youth in healthy sporting activities.” He offered his all-out support to badminton federation and promised to take very good care of international players and officials.