Did you know that Pakistan football team beat India in India only a few months ago or that Pakistan baseball team is the current defending champions of the West Asia Baseball Cup? It is highly unlikely that you did, because sports other than cricket do not get the attention they deserve.
It’s about time we start paying attention to the plethora of gifted individuals we have in our Country; the underdogs, the unsung heroes of our nation. The media seldom pays heed to achievements of less popular sports; winning gold medals in karate or skiers winning back to back medals in international competitions will generally not appear as breaking news whereas a cricketer missing curfew will be all over the front page of every newspaper in the country.
Karate and skiing may not be considered mainstream sports in our region, but what about football? Thousands upon thousands follow football religiously in Pakistan, but somehow, our National teams and matches go unnoticed.
How many people know that Pakistan will be playing against Yemen in Fifa 2018 world cup qualifiers in Pakistan? Not too many people knew that the SAFF championship was held in Islamabad in November 2014. Why was the championship not publicised? Why were the stands empty? Why aren’t the walls of the sports complex decorated with the images of these stars?!
If football was given the same attention as cricket, if the team had better exposure, Pakistani football could have achieved so much more than it already has. If multiple tv channels hosted multiple shows with multiple analysts, maybe we could have garnered more support and improved much faster. There is no shortage of talented individuals. We have multiple male footballers signing on with foreign clubs, we have players like Kaleemullah who with his dazzling performance won player of the year in Kyrgyzstan. Maybe if we had a better set up, we wouldn’t see these players leave.
Their female footballing counterparts are no less, skills they possess are praiseworthy, the likes of Pakistani top scorer, Hajra Khan, goalkeeper Syeda Mahpara, Malika e Noor to name a few. If we are incapable of nurturing and developing their talents, if we are unable to provide them the support they require to achieve their potential, then we are giving them a reason to leave as well.
Yes, our system is plagued with corruption, and it’s slowly eating up all our potential. The lackluster attitude of higher ups, internal rifts have already taken a toll on Pakistani sports heavily. But despite all of that, we as Pakistani’s need to show our unwavering support to these stars. We must not accept the conditions as they are, these sportsmen and women deserve our utmost respect and support
I am proud of my fellow countrymen and women, those who have spent their entire lives working hard to achieve something for this Country. To be honest, I would much rather buy a green football jersey with Kaleemullah or Hajra written on the back than Messi or Marta.
Writer tweets @rabiasahmad