LAHORE - Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) president Lt Gen (R) Arif Hasan has said that the players are not ready for SAF Games as the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) doesn’t seem interested in setting up training camps for the buildup of Pakistan contingent.

"Less than five months time period has left in start of the SAF Games but there is no sign of starting training camps in various disciplines. It is essential to start the camps without any delay as already a lot of time has been wasted and further delay in this regard can jeopardize the country's prospects for winning medals and to give tough time to India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh,” said the POA chief.

Arif Hasan said it was the PSB’s duty to chalk out a comprehensive plan for the training of the Pakistani sportsmen for their participation in the Games but the concerned quarters had not taken any decision so far to engage national athletes for training. "If the same situation persists, we will not be able to put up a decent show in the Games and we may finish behind Sri Lanka and Bangladesh,” he regretted.

He said the POA as well as various national sports federations had approached the PSB in this regard and also wrote a number of letters reminding it the importance of the game and Pakistan's prospects in the event but ironically nothing had been done to address this important issue.

"India as hosts started its preparations long ago to maintain its supremacy as defending champions in the Games, whereas Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are also training hard to throw a tough challenge in their quest to secure second and third place in the Games. “Unfortunately, we are without any plan to organise training camps which is an alarming factor and we are falling behind with each passing day,” he added.

The POA chief said if training camps were not setup, Pakistan would be finishing fourth. “Finishing fourth in the Games will set new bottom mark in the country's sports as we did in hockey after failing to qualify for the Champions trophy and the Olympics,” he asserted.

"Other South Asian countries are taking the SAF Games very seriously which is evident from their preparations under the watchful eyes of foreign coaches, whereas we are without any preparation and such hap-hazard preparation will add to our sagging fortune in sports,” said Arif Hasan.

He urged the government to give top priority to Pakistan participation in the SAF Games by arranging training camps and ensure participation of various teams in international tournaments so that the athletes may gain the required standard in order to fetch medals in the Games.