LAHORE - Pakistan deaf team captain Zaka Ahmad Qureshi has said that though they had cleaned-sweep Afghanistan and arch-rival India but haven’t been welcomed like national cricket team as well no organisation or government executive announced any cash award.

“We were assured that at least Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif, who always appreciates and encourages sports and talent, would honour our achievements and would announce some cash rewards along with scholarships and jobs for us but all these dreams still could not come true,” Zaka expressed these views while talking to The Nation here on Monday at a prize distribution ceremony which was organised by Pakistan Deaf Cricket Association (PDCA) in honour of national deaf team.

Minister for Sports and Education Rana Mashhood Ahmad Khan and Special Assistant to Punjab Chief Minister Syed Zaeem Hussain Qadri were chief guests while PCB General Manager Domestic Shafiq Ahmad Papa, Punjab Social Services Board Chairman Mrs Kiran Dar and Punjab Welfare for the Disable Director Dr Izharul Haq Hashmi were guests of honours at the occasion. Also present there were PDCA president Abdul Salam, secretary Irfan Miraj, manager Zaheeruddin Babar, coach Nadeem Zafar Gondal, translator Farhat Aslam and the entire deaf team and management.

Deaf team manager Zaheer said that the purpose of organising this ceremony was to encourage the winning deaf team so that they might continue performing well and earning more laurels for the country at international level.

Highlighting the achievements of national deaf team, Zaheer said: “We first hosted a Twenty20 international cricket series against Afghanistan which our team won by clean-sweeping the Afghan team and after that, we went to India to play Dosti Cricket Cup against the arch-rivals. We once again performed brilliantly and clean-swept India which was a historical moment not only for us but also for the entire nation. But unfortunately, no one in the government bothered to utter a few a words of appreciation for us while announcement for cash awards seems to be a far cry.”

He informed that the 1st Deaf International Cricket Council (DICC) World Cup would be held in March 2016 in United Arab Emirates (UAE). “In April 2015, Pakistan will host the 1st T20 Asia Cup in which six teams from Asia including India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal and host Pakistan will take part.”

The PDCA officials highly lauded the sponsors FFC, McDonald, Pizza Hit, Sufi and others as it was due to their sincere efforts and cooperation that the national deaf team managed to achieve such feats of clean-sweeping India in India. They also expressed their gratitude to Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) which supported the PDCA at every step. “The real credit of our team victory goes to PCB and its chairman Shaharyar Khan, director domestic cricket Intikhab Alam and GM domestic Shafiq Ahmad Papa who always addressed our request of any financial assistance.”

Chief guest Zaeem Qadri assured the PDCA and deaf team his all-out support and said he would soon arrange their meeting with the CM and also manage permanent scholarships for players and officials. “I will try to help the PDCA get grant from the CM soon and also try to enhance their annual grant.”

Minister for Sports Rana Mashhood felicitated the entire deaf team and management for beating arch-rivals on their home soil and promised to help them in getting their due right. “I will talk to the chief minister in this regard and soon arrange his meeting with the deaf players and officials. I assure all problems being faced by PDCA and deaf players will be resolved soon and they will not only be honoured by the CM but also awarded permanent scholarships to meet their both ends.”