LAHORE - International Provincial Coordination (IPC) Minister Dr Fehmida Mirza on Friday distributed cheques among 11 players of Pakistan wrestling and squash teams in two different sessions at Ministry of IPC, Islamabad.

The 13th South Asian Games were held from December 1 to 10, 2019 in Nepal, wherein seven South Asian countries participated for top honors. In these Games, Pakistan contingent won total 133 medals comprising 32 gold, 41 silver and 60 bronze medals.

The Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) hosted the cheque distribution ceremony in two sessions to ensure the safety of players and officials and observing SOPs set by the government, which is, in fact, a good step towards keeping everyone save from the dangerous disease. Hopefully, other organisations will also follow this example set by the PSB to ensure the safety of every Pakistani. Besides IPC Minister Dr Fehmida Mirza, Additional Secretary Mrs Amna Imran Khan and PSB DDG (Tech) Azam Dar were also present on the occasion.

Director Media Azam Dar, who is also Acting Deputy Director General Technical, told The Nation that the purpose of hosting the award giving ceremony was to appreciate untiring efforts of our sportspersons, who brought laurels for the country and support them financially at this critical time of need, when all the sports activities have been halted worldwide due to Covid-19 pandemic. Hopefully, they will now make extra efforts to earn more glories for the country at international level.

Speaking on the occasion, IPC Minister Dr Fehmida Mirza, who is also PSB President, congratulated the medal winning athletes and also expressed her sincere appreciation for winning sportsmen. She informed that though the Ministry wanted to host a ceremony of national level by inviting the Honorable Prime Minister as the ‘Chief Guest’, however, due to current Covid-19 pandemic situation, the cash awards were distributed among the winners by inviting them in small batches.

Dr Fehmida added that the federal government is fully aware of the problems of sportspersons and playing its due role for promoting the sports in the country. “The provinces may come forward for uplifting standards of the games in the country and promote sports from grassroots level by adopting the best practices of the world as the provinces are primarily responsible for the subject under the 18th Amendment to the Constitution. The better the provinces play their role for uplift of sports, the better results the players will produce at higher level.”

The gold medalists wrestling players, who attended the ceremony, included Inam Butt, Inayat Ullah, Abdur Rehman while No 1 squash player Tayyab Aslam and Farhan Mehboob were the gold medalist squash player. The gold medalists lauded the efforts made by the federal government and the IPC Minister to support them financially at this critical time of need.

“The financial help by the government will go a long way to support their families and making efforts for their future endeavors. We would also like to appreciate and thank the then IPC Secretary/Chef-de-Mission Akbar Durrani, who visited every venue to encourage us and also arranged sessions for boosting our morale and making us prepare aiming to win the gold medals,” they added.

The secretary generals of wrestling and squash federations, who were also present on the occasion, assured their full support to the government and opined that without the necessary patronage of the government, the federations would not be able to achieve their objectives and execute their activities. They also requested to provide financial assistance to the national sports federations for smooth functioning.

The step of honoring and rewarding the gold medalists of the South Asian Games was widely applauded by sports circles and sportspersons across the country and they hoped that not only the remaining sportspersons will also be rewarded soon but also hoped that the PSB will continue to honoring and rewarding medal-winning players, as it will further boost their morale and encourage them to win more glories for the country at international level. They also reminded the IPC Ministry and the PSB about the performance of Pakistan team against the European Powerhouse, Slovenia tennis team, in Davis Cup tie recently hosted by the country in Islamabad.