ISLAMABAD - Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) Minister Dr Fahmida Mirza has wished good luck to Pakistan baseball team, which will depart to Sri Lanka today (Thursday) to take part in the West Asia Baseball Championship, commencing from July 15 in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Addressing a press conference along with players and Pakistan Federation Baseball (PFB) President Syed Fakhar Ali Shah, Dr Fahmida lauded Fakhar’s tireless efforts and appreciated his passion for the country and baseball. “Whenever I visited baseball camp, I found Fakhar with the players and officials. It was very rear scene, which should be followed by other federations as well. I feel proud that out of 120 countries of the world, where baseball is being played, Pakistan stands 24.

“I admit that despite lacking infrastructure and massive annual funding, Pakistan baseball team has been performing exceptionally. The West Asia Cup is played after every two years. Pakistan hosted last edition in Islamabad and we were unfortunate to lose the final. But I know Pakistan team is well prepared and ready to win gold for the country,” she added.

Dr Fahmida said: “Total six countries including hosts Sri Lanka, who are also defending champions, Bangladesh, India, Iran, Nepal and Pakistan are taking part in the event. We have established a month-long training camp for Pakistan baseball team and I am sure they had trained according to international requirements.

“After the passage of 18th amendment, sports were given to respective provinces and federal government expects provinces to provide funding to the federations, but in highly limited resources, we had given grants to 19 federations affiliated with PSB as per their performances and we will continue to lend a helping hand to as much as we can. But all those, who are sitting in the federations since long and hijacked rights of athletes, have to either relinquish posts, or be ready to face the music,” she asserted.

The IPC Minister said that the National Games will be held in KP in October this year. “I will meet with KP Sports Minister and offer government’s all-out help to ensure National Games should be held in befitting manner. I also laud efforts of Fakhar Ali Shah for conducting a month-long camp in tribal areas with 200 youngsters taking part in it. Three of them are representing Pakistan baseball team in West Asia Cup in Sri Lanka form that camp, which is very encouraging sign and I hope more federations will follow such hard work and sincere efforts of involving youth of far-flung areas.”

She said she had conducted meetings with provincial Sports Ministers in the past and also working on next round of meeting. “National sports diplomacy conference will be held soon, in which international delegates and national sports federations will be invited to discuss in detail problems and solutions. I want private sector to step forward and lend a helping hand to federations, so that we may achieve the goal of taking Pakistan sports to new heights.”

Sharing his views, PFB President Syed Fakhar thanked IPC Minister for sparing time and wishing good luck to the team and promised to win the West Asia Baseball. “We have top 24 professional players, while 16 of them have represented the country in the Asian Games. Top two finishers of the West Asia Cup will earn the right to play in the Asian Senior Baseball Championship, which will be held in October this year, which is a qualifier for 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“We are thankful to the IPC Minister for providing the federation a month-long camp and I am very satisfied with the accommodation, diet, meal and facilities being provided to us. We are in good shape and hopefully, we will win back our title, which we lost two years back at the very same venue of PSB Baseball ground,” Fakhar concluded.