ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) Acting Director General Syed Habib Shah has blamed that the federations are behind the pathetic performances of Pakistan in international events as they solely select the players, officials and coaches for international events.

Talking to The Nation, Hahib said: “The PSB introduced National Sports Policy but instead of implementing it in true letter and spirit, the federations went to court of law, while the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) differences and parallel federations also added to the woes of athletes. But I am sure now the things are moving towards right direction. Off course, it will take some time before Pakistani athletes will start producing better results at international level. The PSB is always ready to help the federations and certain individuals.

“It was quite disheartening that Pakistan hockey team was not a part of Rio Olympics. The three-time Olympic champions first time failed to qualify for the biggest sporting event on earth, but we have to overcome that pain and grief and ensure from next time, we will not miss any international event. I hope the national interests will be given top most priority while selecting the teams and players. I am sure Pakistani athletes have gusts and potential to excel at any given stage,” he added.

Habib, who held national 100 meter champion record for more than 25 years, said: “I was national champion in 100m and 200m. During our playing days, there were very limited opportunities, no jobs and almost zero facilities, but at that time, there was hunger and desire to win for the country. Pakistan managed to win a lot of international medals during 1960s, 70s and 80s. We were the world champions in squash, hockey and other sports, while our wrestlers and athletes were also winning medals at Asian level.

“Firstly, there were only few teams competing at Asian level. Japan was the undisputed number one Asian team, followed by Korea and others, while Pakistan was also doing exceptionally well in late 60s, when we managed to win 28 medals overall at Asian level, which was our best performance till date. China was nowhere at that time, but all of a sudden, Chinese government realises the importance of investing in sports and the results are evident to everyone,” he added.

Habib said during late 60s and 70s, Army was contributing heavily, as they were providing best athletes and in other sports as well, but after that different federations were formed and the major responsibility was shifted to those federations to ensure producing medal-winning athletes. “Unfortunately, merit was not given no importance, and the result is evident now. Pakistani athletes have been failing badly in international event after 1980s, with the exception of a few certain individuals and hockey team.”

Habib said: “China is one of the superpowers of world sports, not because they only invested heavily in sports, but they took sports as a way to lead the international community. Despite limited resources, the government and the PSB is doing its level best to justify with each and every sports, we not only give annual grant to the affiliated federations but also provide them with special grants to ensure their participation in international events, provide them NOCs and look after them in the best possible manner.

“The people must understand one thing that the PSB is playing the role of facilitator, we have no say when it comes to selection of players, teams or coaches. We pay heavy monthly salaries and air fares international coaches, send players for training abroad on recommendation of respected federations, so it is federations’ role to pick the best of the lot and players’ role to produce the best results,” Habib concluded.