ISLAMABAD     -   Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) Minister Dr Fahmida Mirza has lauded Pakistan Squash Federation’s role of spending huge amount of money on junior players, which is paying great dividend, as Pakistani juniors are giving exceptional results in the international arena.

Dr Fahmida expressed these views during the cash award ceremony for the squash players, who won laurels for the country in different international tournaments here at Mushaf Squash Complex on Monday. Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) senior vice president Air Marshal Shahid Akhtar Alvi, PSB Director General Arif Ibrahim, PSF secretary Group Captain Tahir Sultan, PSB Director Media Shazia Ejaz and others were also present on the occasion.

The IPC Minister said: “Squash gave Pakistan a number of international medals. Pakistan produced world champions in this game, who ruled the squash world for decades. The game was declining fast, but with the sincere efforts of PSF President Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan, SVP Shahid Alvi and the management, Pakistani juniors have started creating waves in squash circles.

“I am very glad to witness the recent records of Pakistani players, who are doing good job at international stage. I wish good luck to Pakistan junior team, which is going to take part in the World Junior Team Championship to be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and I am sure with the hard work, dedication and efforts put in by coaches, trainers and players, the team will return as champions, just like in 2017,” she said.

The IPC Minister said she had witnessed junior players and she is really impressed with their training and fitness levels. “I know they need facilities and international exposure and I assure these players of all-out support and the best facilities. I want our senior players to pay heed towards winning PSA and major ranking tournaments for Pakistan, just like Qamar Zaman, Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan had done for the country.

“It is very important that our senior players must fulfill their potential and try to give more than 100 percent. I know they have the ability and the federation has invested millions on these players, so it is their national and moral duty to payback in the best possible manner,” she added.

Dr Fahmida said that she expects private sector to help the federations, who are producing excellent results, as without private sector help, only government can’t bear huge funds required for the uplift of sports. I have started distributing cash incentives among all the medal winners of different games, and those who are working day and night to keep Pakistani flag fly high in the world of sports.

“I once again promise that I will talk to PM and try to get more funds for the athletes and federations, but let me assure and made it very clear that only those federations and players, who are performing at world stage, will get finances, as after the passage of 18th amendment, sports have been provincial matter, even then federal government is alive to the situation and lending the best possible help to athletes and federations.

She asserted: “Hockey, tennis and even cricket need to work on modern lines and merit must prevail in every field. Without giving chances to the best of the lot, we can’t expect to perform well at international stage. I hope like PSF, other federations will put in same efforts to help players win medals. I congratulate players for winning 75 medals in squash.

“We are taking sports diplomacy initiative and soon a conference will be held in this regard. I request media houses to spare at least an hour for sports programmes to attract the youth. I also congratulate Pakistani parliamentarians’ cricket team for winning the first World Cup in England. It is indeed a great honour for Pakistan and parliament,” Dr Fahmida concluded.

An exhibition squash match was also played between the two members of Pakistan junior team, which will take part in World Junior Team Championship. Haris Qasim and Hamza Sharif both started the first game on high tempo, but it was Haris who took it 11-7. In the second game, Haris once again prevailed and won the game 11-8 and took the third game 11-9. Later, cash awards were distributed among the medal winners.