ISLAMABAD - President Islamic Republic of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain declared much-awaited Quaid-e-Azam Inter Provincial Youth Gamers opened in a colorful ceremony held here at the Pakistan Sports Complex on Saturday.

Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) Minister Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada, renowned singers Ali Zafar, Hadeeqa Kiyani, families of athletes as well as 10 to 15 thousand spectators were also presented on the occasion.

Around 3000 athletes of different boards are participating in the four-day mega event, conducted in the federal capital for the very first time, after SAF Games. The athletes along with officials holding their respective boards’ flags marched past. Islamabad Board took oath from the athletes, before the chief guest declared the games formally opened as torch was lit up. The colorful scenes were witnessed as the Jinnah Stadium was presenting beautiful look.

Addressing the passionate gathering, President Mamnoon Hussain has described it a historic occasion and hoped the successful conduct of the games would send a very positive and clear message to the world community that Pakistan is completely safe for hosting all kinds of sporting activities.

He also stressed the need to understand the importance of providing youth opportunities to showcase their skills in sports as well. “Sports play vital role in building the character of the youth and involve youth in positive and healthy activities. Unfortunately, the country has been facing security issues for the last few years and our play grounds are empty and our sports loving masses are deprived of watching their favorite players in action against the international players in front of them.

“But now with active steps taken by the federal government and with the sacrifices of our armed forces, the overall security situation of the country is much improved and the day is not far, when our play grounds will be filled with international athletes and people will throng the stadiums,” he added.

The President lauded the IPC Minister and his team for arranging such a wonderful event and hoped the athletes would not only showcase their skills to the best of their abilities but also show true sportsman spirit through the mega event. “Sports will excel instead of personal glories. The athletes and officials must ensure fair play and take very good care of each other.”

Speaking at the occasion, IPC Minister Mian Riaz thanked the President for sparing his precious time and attending the inaugural ceremony. He paid glowing tribute to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and federal government for releasing funds to conduct Quaid-e-Azam Games.

“We had to postpone the games last year due to sit-ins and other issues and had to change the dates this year too due to unavoidable circumstances. But by the grace of Almighty, the games are finally on and I am expecting it would be a mega hit. We would provide best facilities, accommodation and handsome cash prizes to the participants.” The IPC Minister also congratulated the PSB staff and officials for working day and night to make this day possible.

Meanwhile, the masses and media had to face a number of difficulties, especially media accreditation cards were badly mishandled. Despite taking photographs/CNIC numbers and other relevant details, media persons were provided incomplete cards, on which their respective organisation name, CNIC numbers and other things were missing. The masses had to park vehicles far from the venue. Only one certain channel was allowed entry into the stadium besides the national broadcaster, while all the other private media and cameramen were restricted to one certain area. There was no one from PSB and IPC to guide journalists and inform them from which gate they should have made the entry.

When this scribe contacted PSB Deputy Director General M Shahid, who is also chairman media committee, to seek his help, Shahid came to the rescue of the journalists and not only issued complete cards and parking stickers to the journalists, but also guided them properly.

The players also had to suffer due to one reason or another. On strong protest of Balochistan women soccer team, Gilgit-Baltistan team was expelled due to including two departmental players in their ranks. It is hoped that things would be better from the second day of the event and the PSB would facilitate masses and journalists and ensure they might perform their duties in professional manner. It was the first day, understandably, a few flaws were remained, but it is PSB Director General’s duty to handle things properly and make sure no repeat of such things from now on.

In tennis event, total seven men and six women have been taking part. Fata and Balochistan girls created history when they took part in the tennis event in the history of their respective region.

In men’s singles first round, Gulzaman (Fata) beat Murad Khan (Sindh) 4-6, 6-2, 6-0, Bilal Ahmed (Punjab) beat Ejaz Ahmed (KP) 6-1, 6-2, SalarWali (GB) beat Rizwan (Bal) 6-2, 6-1, Aqeel Shabbir (Sindh) beat Shahrukh Wali (Bal) 6-4, 6-1, Barkatullah Khan (KP) beat Ilham Khan (Fata) 6-3, 6-3, Zaryab Pirzada (Punjab) beat M Kahlid Khan (Bal) 6-0, 6-0. In men’s doubles, Eibad Sarwar/Nadir Bachani (Sindh) beat Salar Wali/Sharukh Wali (GB) 7-6, (4), 6-4, M Bilal/Zaryab Pirzada (KP) Kashan Omer/Farhanullah (KP) 6-4,6-4, Gul Zaman/ Waqar (Fata) beat M Khalid/M Ramazan (Bal) 6-0, 6-0, Ilham Khan/Aftab Hussain (Fata) beat Rizwan Shah/Gulraiz Shah (Bal) 7-6 (5), 6-3, Hafiz Arbab/Hashir Farooq (Punjab) beat Hasnain Mehmood/Moiz Ganjera (Isb) 6-1, 6-3, Aqeel Shabbir/Murad Khan beat Malik Jibran/ Yasir Khan (G/B) 6-1, 6-2.

In women’s singles first round, Kiran Mushtaq (Isb) beat Kanwal Karim (G/B) 6-0, 6-0, Sundas David (Isb) beat Nazia Baltool (Bal) 6-2, 6-3. In the women’s doubles first round, Sundas David/Anum Shahid (Isb) beat Arifa/Summera (G/B) 6-0, 6-0.