ISLAMABAD   -   Pakistan Federation Baseball (PFB) President Syed Fakhar Ali Shah has requested Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) Minister Dr Fahmida Mirza to start training camp of Pakistan baseball team at Pakistan Sports Complex for the upcoming Olympics qualifiers.

Talking to The Nation, Fakhar, who is in China with Pakistan junior baseball team for the 10th BFA U-15 Asian Baseball Championship 2019, said: “By virtue of finishing runners-up in the 14th West Asia Cup Baseball Championship held in Sri Lanka, Pakistan team has earned the right to play in the 29th BFA Asian Baseball Championship 2019, which will be held in Taichung, Taiwan from October 14 to 20. This event will be served as qualifier to the 2020 U-23 World Cup and qualifier to the final qualification of Tokyo Olympics 2020.

“Total eight teams will be taking part in the event including Japan, Korea, Chinese Taipei and China as top four teams while Sri Lanka and Pakistan earned the right because of 14th West Asia Cup and Philippines and Hong Kong qualified from East Asia Cup held last year,” he added.

The PFB president said he is grateful to Dr Fahmida for not only establishing a month-long camp for Pakistan baseball team at the PSB before the West Asia Cup, but also paying several visit to the camp and seeing off the national team, which motivated the men in green and helped them finish as runners-up in West Asia Baseball.

“Now mega events are round the corner and we have bright chances of earning rights to play in Tokyo Olympics, if Dr Fahmida Mirza orders to establish national team camp at Islamabad in time,” he added.

Fakhar admitted that they could have won the gold medal in the 14th West Asia Cup, but due to fumbles in the field, they had to settle for silver medal. “Now we have almost two months for the preparation so if we start training camp at Islamabad, we will have ample time to prepare our team well for the mega events. Representing in Olympics is a dream of every country and sportsman and I think we have very balanced team and talented players, who, if provided with modern-day training, can cause major upsets, which we have already done in the past.

“We have realistic chances of doing well in the 29th BFA Asian Baseball Championship, but for this, we need long training camps. Dr Fahmida, who is athletes herself, is always very kind and supportive. She provided us with much-needed special grant, which enabled us to send the teams abroad and also establish training camps, which are helping us produce better results,” he added.

The PFB chief said he has already sent request to Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) to start training camp of baseball team. “If we prepare and train well, we can at least pose serious challenge for the top two finish, but if we kept on sitting and hoping for things to go in our favour, it will make our chances bleak.

“There is only one baseball ground in the country, which is in Islamabad. I am trying my best to arrange funds from private sponsors, while we are also hoping to establish training camp for the National Games as it will provide us with fresh talent from different departments. I am sure Dr Fahmida and PSB DG will respond in positive manner to our request and order to establish training camp soon,” Fakhar concluded.