LAHORE-Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) Minister Dr Fehmida Mirza on Monday distributed cash awards among the male and female taekwondo players and a female squash player, who won medals in the 13th South Asian Games in Nepal.

Talking to The Nation, Acting Deputy Director General (Tech) Azam Dar, who is also Director Media, said that according to approved cash award policy, gold medalists were given Rs 1 million each, silver medalists Rs 500,000 each while bronze medalists Rs 250,000 each. “During the second chapter of this exercise, the cheques were distributed in three different sessions because of prevailing Covid-19 pandemic situation in the country. First, the medal winners of national taekwondo team were rewarded by IPC Minister and PSB President Dr Fehmida Mirza. The team won 3 gold, 6 silver and 8 bronze medals. Similarly, Muqadas Ashraf, a squash players and winner of silver medal, also received her cheque of Rs 500,000.

“On the direction of IPC Minister Dr Fehmida Mirza, the remaining cheques of rest of the female squash players including Madina Zafar, Faiza Zafar and Amna Fayyaz were handed over to Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF). Pakistan Taekwondo Federation (PTF) President Col (R) Waseem Ahmed Janjua and PSF Secretary Wing Commander Tahir Sultan were also present on the occasion,” Dar added.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Fehmida Mirza felicitated both the federations (taekwondo and squash) and articulated her earnest appreciation for the winning sportspersons. “The performance of taekwondo players remained outstanding in South Asian Games 2019, wherein, players won total 17 medals as compare to its 2016 chapter with 7 medals in total. Despite limited resources; federal government is taking all possible measures to promote sports in the country.”

The Minister said that the subject of sports has been devolved to the provinces under the 18th Amendment to the Constitution. “Now, the provinces may come forward to allocate enhanced resources to cater for their constitutional obligations. The private sector should also supplement the efforts of the governments and sponsor the sports activities in the country and players while representing Pakistan in international sports events.” It is also pertinent to add that medal winners of other international events/categories are also on the agenda for incentives.

The IPC Minister also appreciated the roles of parents, who allow their daughters to participate in the national and international events, who in return win laurels for the country. “We need more such kind of parents, who appreciate, encourage and support their kids in the field of sports and want to see them future sports stars in their respective games. I, on behalf of government, assure all the parents of very bright future of their kids, who excel at international level and earn good name for the country globally by winning international medals.”

Sharing their feelings after receiving their cash awards, the medal winning sportspersons thanked the federal government and especially Dr Fehmida Mirza for inviting them to receive the prize money at this critical time of need, when all the sports events have been halted due to Covid-19 and playgrounds are presenting a deserted picture.

They also showed their gratitude for making all travelling/logistic arrangements for South Asian Games, taking care of the players during execution phase of the games and above all, rewarding the players financially, which will be beneficial for the players in a multiple ways like they can support to their families, spend money on training and making efforts for their future endeavors.

PTF President Col (R) Waseem Ahmed Janjua highlighted the performance of each player and thanked IPC Minister Dr Fehmida Mirza for timely rewarding the players and arranging camps for the South Asian Games. He requested the Minister for future support to produce better results. “The next edition of South Asian Games will be hosted by Pakistan and our players will have to concentrate on their skillful training using latest equipment and technologies, participation and take home-ground advantage, aiming to win more medals to improve the overall medal tally.”

In addition to the federal government support, the PTF chief also requested the provinces to help the provincial sports associations to dig out talent from grassroots level and train the sportspersons on modern and scientific lines. He also informed that the PTF is holding a video link championship owing to Covid-19 and it will start from mid May, 2020 under the guidance of the Korean coach.

Responding to the PTF President, PSB President Dr Fehmida assured him of all-out support of PSB, and also said that not only the PTF, but also all other medal producing national federations will be provided fully support of the PSB, so that their athletes may get training under this critical situation.