ISLAMABAD - 18-year-old Zubair Ahmed died on the spot in Katlan, area of Mardan, as the short pitch delivery hit him in the neck, while he was training at Sir Nazim Cricket Academy, being run by Pakistan’s Champions Trophy hero Fakhar Zaman at Katlang.

According to details available with The Nation, Zubair was a student of class 10 and was registered with Sir Nazim Academy. After playing 35 deliveries in the net, he received a short pitch delivery, he was double-minded whether to leave or play, in the meantime, the ball hit his neck. Other players rushed towards him, asking him whether he was fine or not. He though said he was fine and played one more delivery but then died on the spot.

Zubair had two brothers and five sisters, while his father is a farmer. The sources informed that there was almost zero facilities at the ground, as there was no professional trainer and coach available there and there was also no first aid facility available there. There is a need of establishing certified academies and hiring qualified coaches with valid licence, like in western countries. In England, police regularly check the academies, monitor players’ situation, first aid courses are conducted regularly and proper licences are issued to run academies of not only cricket but other sports as well.

But here in Pakistan, anybody can start academy without having proper coaches and first aid facilities and even they don’t bother to ensure proper safety measures and all age group players are free to play against each other. There are only a few academies, being run by former first class or Test cricketers, which do adopt safety measures and ensure youngsters play in their specific age groups, use proper cricketing gears and use top quality helmets.

Sharing his views, Islamabad region head coach Taimoor Azam, who is coaching Islamabad for last 12 years and have coaching experience in England and done PCB Level-IV course, said the incident was highly unfortunate and all are equally responsible for that, as kids are sent to academies without properly investigating.

He said the PCB should issue licenses to academies, which is the only way of discouraging professionals from minting money at the cost of youth or else this situation will continue unabated. “Just to earn few bucks could endanger lives of our kids, so I strongly recommend that don’t let strangers run cricket or other sports academies without proper investigation.”

Sharing his views, Fata region head coach Ayaz Akbar Yousafzai said he had visited Mardan and in the past too, a number of such incidents was reported where youth got injured but this was for the first time that a youngster lost his life. “It is duty of local administration to pay surprise visits and check the environment in which the academies are functioning. Don’t spoil the character of the youth and keep close check on their activities, while parents are also equally responsible to ensure conducive environment in which their kids are playing.”

“I strongly suggest and recommend that only those persons, who have done PCB coaching courses or foreign qualified should be allowed to run the academies and that too after going through safety measures and ensure first aid kit is available. The players must be divided into specific age groups and use of helmets must be ensured,” Ayza concluded.