KARACHI - Former CEO BCCP (now PCB) Arif Ali Khan Abbasi who brought first sponsorship  money in national cricket more than two decades ago has said financial patronage either big or small is life blood of modern sports and added those sports had prospered quicker who had attracted financial support.

Recording his impressions on sponsorship particularly in golf in Pakistan shortly after Pak Suzuki handed over a top of the line swift valued around Rs. 1.9 million to  Pervez Akhtar at a  special function arranged here on Saturday at Arabian Sea Country Club where on July 7 the Islamabad based golfer holed in one and won the car in prize, Abbasi said professional golf in Pakistan needed that kind of encouragement more often . Abbasi as secretary of the then BCCP signed an agreement with Pakistan Tobacco to sponsor the domestic cricket for a small sum that in a few years time rose to millions.

The prizes of automobiles as awards in hole in one competition had always element of uncertainty, he said. He also congratulated Pak Suzuki for keeping the car for a difficult competition like hole in one. He said golf was the fastest growing sport in Pakistan. A number of new golf courses have come up all across the country. In Karachi the number of courses in the city have grown to five.

New golfers both amateurs and professionals are joining the sport in hordes but in the absence of proper sponsorship particularly on the professional side the number of promising pros was not growing as fast as were the courses.

There was sponsorship of the open competitions whenever there was such a competition but the prize money in a handful few had good money, otherwise the pros lose money because they spent more on travelling to towns and cities on their own and getting small  money in return as prizes  discourages them, he added.

He said that Pakistan Golf Federation had done nothing substantial to encourage pros and the amateurs. In the absence of a consistent policy and proper administration the golfer were feeling neglected. Except for issuing the annual golf competition calendar and sending a couple of teams abroad the federation had done not much, he added. He suggested for the creation of Pakistan Professional Golf Association and recalled that some time ago there was a move to set up an independent association which would be run entirely by the professionals but for some unknown reasons no forward move was seen in that direction.

He said a number of professional golfers had told him when they were at his club that the president of the PGF had advised the Federation to accelerate setting up of the professional body but no progress had been made yet in that area.

He however added the success of professional association whenever it was created would depend upon who would be leading it. A strong entrepreneurial kind of head of the Pro body could do much more for the promotion of pro golf than a celebrity figures with no initiative, he said.

He said his club was planning to hold a number of golfing events to attract interest of the multinationals in golf. His was a complete club where besides golfing facilities , the club has a first class floodlit cricket ground, four star residential areas, swimming pool, gun club, horse riding area and above all it has good security.