ISLAMABAD - Olympian Sumiara Zahoor urges sports authorities to take action against those, who are creating hurdles for athletes and don’t want them progress.

Talking to The Nation, Sumaira, who is an employee of Pakistan Steel Mills, said: “The Pakistan Steel Mill is going down in almost every department, but as far as sports is concerned, it is producing quality champions. I am greatly thankful to Ministry of Industry and Production secretary Khizar Hayat Gondal, who is a keen sports lover and always ready to help the athletes. In the past too, when Sports Steel Control Board president Raja Auz Mehmood was creating unwanted hurdles in smooth functioning of female coaches, he came to help us out.

“Now once again, Raja Auz is not ready to use commonsense and not allowing coaches to work freely and want us to report to Karachi and sit in office. We are Olympians and it is our job to pass on knowledge and experience to generation next. He doesn’t know the ABC of sports and not ready to accept us as Olympians, instead terms us liars and also misbehaves with us. Because of his attitude, two former national champions Noshee Parveen and Humaira Akmal have left with no other option but to take four-month without-pay leave,” the Olympian added.

Sumaira requested Khizar Hayat Gondal to take notice of the injustices of Raja Auz. “He must appoint a sports-loving person as head of PSM Sports Control Board, which may help coaches and athletes and also boost our morale. I hope like past, Khizar Hayat will not disappoint us and take action against Raha Auz without any further delay. I also request AFP president Maj Gen (R) M Akram Sahi to bridge gap and pay heed towards genuine concerns and empower female coaches,” she added.

About declining situation of Pakistan sports, Sumaira said: “Until and unless the Athletics Federation of Pakistan (AFP) and Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) change their pathetic system, Pakistani players are bound to produce almost same results. The AFP must have changed its attitude and coordinate with athletes and coaches, as there is a huge communication gap between them.”

The Olympian said there was not a single motivational programme for athletes. “The camp commander must be office ranked, who know how to maintain discipline and run the affairs in smooth manner. It is the federation’s duty to ensure time-to-time meetings with not only athletes, coaches but also with the PSB and others and also ensure sponsors, as without having private sector involved, no federation can survive.

“I strongly recommend female coaches must be empowered, as it is very easy to communicate if a female is appointed coach for female athletes. It was good experience of going and participating in Islamic Games, but it makes no sense of taking part and went on joy-rides, if we can’t help the country win medals. I request the AFP and the PSB to exclude word tour, when we embark on international events and use competition instead as it gives athletes a sense of responsibility,” she added.

She said being former national champion and a coach for last 3 years, she knew well how to transform raw talent into champions and medal winners. “We have tremendous amount of talent, which can be trained and groomed well but for this, all have to work with sincerity and by implementing right person for right job policy. Without working on war-footings, providing best facilities, taking care of athletes’ diet, providing supplements and international exposure, we can’t even think about competing against the best in South Asia, winning medals at international level is not more than day dreaming.

Sumaira said the MoUs must be signed with the countries who are dominating in the athletics world. “We should include China, Turkey, Azerbaijan and others, as this will be a formidable block and help Pakistani athletes in the longer run.”