ISLAMABAD - The Pakistan Disabled Sports Association (PDSA) will hold farewell reception in honor of departing Australian High Commissioner Peter Hayward and his wife Suzan on April 24 here at a local hotel to pay tribute to his matchless contributions for disabled cricket.

Talking to The Nation, PDSA chairman Sheikh Abdul Waheed and secretary Nasir Mehmood Chaudhry said: “We feel really proud we had excellent relations with Peter and he not only make sure his presence on different PDSA events but also generously contributed for that noble cause. His departure will be a big loss for the PDSA, as he had always lent a helping hand to the association. We have planned a PDSA XI verses Australian High Commissioner XI cricket match as soon as Peter confirms dates.”

Waheed said they had invited 20 to 25 ambassadors and high commissioners as well, besides presidents of different chambers, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) governing board member Shakil Sheikh and The Nation Resident Editor Salman Masood. “We want to extend our heartiest felicitations to RISJA as they whole-heartedly supported the noble cause, gave extraordinary coverage and always lent a helping hand. Without their active support, the dream of forming the PDSA would never be possible.”

The PDSA chairman also thanked Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) Director General Dr Akhtar Nawaz Ganjera, DDG Facilities Agha Amjedullah and Assistant Director Hostels Malik Imtiaz Hussain for their unconditional support. “I would like to extend my deep thanks to Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) Minister Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada and secretary Ijaz Chaudhry, who always supported the noble cause and made sure disabled players get best possible facilities.”

Waheed especially lauded the services of late Munawar Mughal and termed his death a great loss for the PDSA and the players as he had managed jobs and other incentives for disabled players. “The services of Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) for the PDSA and disabled players are highly commendable. They always supported the cause and always ready to donate generously. They also played a festival match with PDSA Gujranwala, due to which we arranged a hefty amount to manage cricket and other events. I would like to especially mention the name of Founder Group chairman Abdul Rauf, who after the sudden demise of Munawar Mughal, actively got involved in the PDSA affairs,” he added.

“I am feeling glad to announce National Disabled Cricket Championship next month in Islamabad, in which eight teams from across the country are participating. We will provide every facility to the participating teams along with handsome cash prizes. We will also provide central contracts to players in four categories in the first phase, which will be expanded with due course of time. Nobody in the history of Pakistan had offered such contracts to disabled players but it was all was made possible due to active help of different friends, ICCI members and diplomats of various countries, who appreciated our tireless efforts and always bucked us up. The central contracts would help players fully concentrate on their cricket without fear of earning bread and butter for their families,” Waheed concluded.

Sharing his views, Nasir Ch said: “The day has finally arrived when we are going to fulfill our promise. I have always dreamt of doing something for disabled players. I joined PCAPH with this particular mission, but I was very disappointed as it is being used for personal gains. I along with some ICCI friends parted ways with the PCAPH and decided to continue helping disabled players from another platform for which we established the PDSA. Sh Waheed and some other friends like Saeed Ahmed Bhatti, Akhunzada Faheem, Ashfaq Chattha, Naveed Malik, Nisar Mirza and others worked day and night to make it possible.”

“The national championship is only a step away and we are soon leaving for India to finalize terms and conditions for holding SAARC Disabled Cricket Championship in September or October this year. Our discussions with Indian counterpart were highly successful. After finalizing things with India, we will travel to Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to ensure all the teams’ participate in the biggest disabled cricket event. We are working sincerely without any personal gains and want to provide due rights and status to disabled players,” Nasir concluded.