ISLAMABAD   -  Former four-time national taekwondo champion in welterweight Syed Wasim Raza believes that future of Pakistan taekwondo is quite bright.

He lauded Pakistan Taekwondo Federation (PTF) President Lt Col Wasim Ahmed for organising the national event in such a professional and befitting manner. Talking to The Nation, Wasim said: “I was national player and also served Pakistan Navy and fought a number of international events and won bronze medal in Iran in 2001. I had represented Pakistan in Lebanon last time, while I just returned from Korea after attending international coaching course.

“I am grateful to PTF for recommending my name for the prestigious course and all the expenditures were borne by the Korean federation. I have also done a lot of international courses and represented Pakistan in a number of international events as technical official and also officiated the international competitions.”

Wasim said he was executive committee member of the federation and was former associate secretary of Islamabad Taekwondo Association (ITA). “The current era is golden era for the kids, who are provided huge opportunities through national championships and courses. Almost all the private schools have made it compulsory to learn taekwondo, which was hardly available during our playing days.

Now thousands of kids are registered with the federation and more and more talent is willing to learn this beautiful game. With the change in international rules, the risk of major injuries, like I suffered broken leg, broken hands, has been minimised and youngsters are feeling safer than old days.”

He said he is also officiating national level championships and he must admit that he has never seen such a professional event conducted by the PTF. “The recently-concluded held national event will help the PTF present soft image of the country across the globe.”

“There were huge gaps in the national championships. During our playing days, only four provinces and a few departments used to play this sport, but with the passage of time, more and more youngsters adopted this game as professionals. Credit goes to Col Waism, who worked tirelessly as secretary and now for the last few years, being a president, he not only ensured regular national championships, but also international participation, which resulted in our athletes are winning laurels at regular international events.

“The efforts of Col Wasim have no secret to anyone. Although the involvement of clubs made the load too much for referees and technical officials, yet on the other hand, it made the event such a success that now everybody is expecting Pakistan to conduct international event.”

Wasim believes that Pakistani athletes have huge chances of winning international medals in the coming South Asian Games (SAG) to be held in Kathmandu, Nepal in March next year. “I feel without any further delay, Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) should start training camps, as other participating nations have long finalised their teams and running training camps since long.

“On the other hand, our nation expects us to win medals but they never know the inside facts, how we manage funds, how we select teams and how much pressure is on the federation to ensure parents give permission to their kids, especially the girls. We always try to ensure proper women wing representatives accompany female athletes and I am delighted that now this game has not only cemented its roots, but also started producing performance gradually,” he added.

He said he was in Korea, where Nepal, Indian and Bangladesh athletes were also present. “I can judge and predict that our athletes are well prepared and will win more medals in SAG. Next time, I will suggest to host inter-club event separately to provide ample opportunities to the youngsters.”

When asked about biased refereeing witnessed in international events, Wasim said: “Yes, it is a problem. The WTF conducts courses to educate judges/referees, take oaths, but even then, a few incidents are reported. Now the world federation has introduced rules that if a referee is involved and proven, he or she takes sides and biased decisions are made, he/she could face lengthy bans.”