LAHORE - Former Test cricketer Iqbal Qasim has said that National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) is endeavouring to revive the dying sports culture and urged upon other financial institutions and the private sector to play their role in promotion of sports in Pakistan.

Speaking in his introductory remarks at the award giving ceremony of the NBP U-18 hockey team which won the national junior hockey championship held in Karachi last month, Iqbal Qasim, who also heads the sports department of NBP, vowed that his institution would continue to play its role in the progress of sports culture in the country. “

Besides its economical and commercial activities, sports have also become an identity of the NBP which has been rendering its services for the promotion of sports by providing players of international repute in many disciplines,” Iqbal asserted. He also urged upon other national financial institutions and the corporate sector to come forward and make collective efforts to revive sports culture in the country to defeat the anti-social elements. “Our sportspersons always brought laurels for their country and our past is a vivid example of our glory in the field of sports,” he said.

Paying rich tribute to the youngsters who brought laurels for NBP by winning the national championship, Iqbal disclosed that the NBP conducted trials in various cities to spot hockey talent, strictly on merit, and after giving hem two months training and coaching raised a team which became national champion. “The NBP has organized this function to honour the collective hard work of its coaches and the players,” Iqbal concluded. Later a cash award of Rs. 50, 000 each was distrusted among the players and the team officials.

Speaking on the occasion Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) associate secretary Anjum Saeed lauded the NBP policy to encourage the youngsters for their achievement in the field. He thanked the NBP management for playing its role in the progress of sports in the country and hoped that it would continue in future. He noted some similarities between the NBP, the PHF and the game of hockey. “NBP is our national bank and hockey is our national game and both are our precious assets. Further PHF Secretary General Mujahid Ali Rana also belongs to the NBP,” Anjum narrated in a lighter mood.

The PHF official recalled that the NBP had taken lead in introducing healthy traditions in the progress of sport in general and hockey in particular. He also called upon the management of the Bank to raise woman hockey team as well. He also gave souvenirs to the Bank management on behalf of PHF president and the secretary general.

Former PHF secretary Brig (r) Musarratullah Khan also recalled the services of NBP for the promotion of hockey in Pakistan. “During my era the NBP always came forward to entertain our request and sponsored various tournaments. He also urged upon the private sector and financial institutions to come forward to strengthen sports culture in the country.

Former Olympians Khawaja Junaid, Tahir Zaman, M Akhlaq, Danish Kaleem, Tariq Sheikh, Mujahid Afzal and Lahore District Association associate secretary M Yaqoob also attended the function.