LAHORE: Shooters G.M. Bashir and Minhal Suhail’s qualification for this year’s Rio Games has failed to get its due recognition and celebration so far, mainly because of Pakistan Sports Board’s (PSB) ambivalence towards the sport as the top sports body is not ready to assist the National Rifle Association of Pakistan (NRAP) in bearing its expenses of the foreign coach and the shooters.
The two shooters have been coached by a foreign coach whose training has helped them a great deal in qualifying for the 2016 Games at a time when even hockey and boxing have failed to make it to the world’s biggest sports gala.
NRAP honorary secretary Javaid S. Lodhi said that the two shooters Bashir and Minhal had qualified for the Rio Olympics by the grace of God but the PSB had given a very disappointing reply to the NRAP when approached for funding.
The honorary secretary of the NRAP said his association had requested the PSB to issue special funds amounting to Rs1.5 million for the payment of monthly salary to foreign coach namely Vladimir Kovalenko from Belarus – who has played a vital role in helping shooters qualify for Games – and shooter Bashir who, he said, had especially come to Pakistan after leaving his highly paid job in Qatar to represent the country in the upcoming Olympics.
The NRAP, remarked its honorary secretary, had requested the PSB to issue a special grant so that his association could pay a three-month salary to both Bashir and the foreign coach until the Olympics. But the PSB, added the secretary, replied that it had no allocation in the two heads.
On the other hand, the PSB states that it “has a laid down procedure/policy for hiring the services of foreigner in the PSB, which is needed to be followed to engage a foreign coach on PSB’s expense. The PSB has hardly had any such allocations due to which it’s unable to bear the expenses in these two heads.”
“Since the Rio Olympics will be held from August 5 to 21 in the next financial year, the PSB will bear the following expenses of two shooters participating in the event: air traveling, boarding, lodging and out of pocket allowance to players and an official, uniform/kit, ammunition expenses for training and participation in the Olympics,” it further states.
Nonetheless, rumour has it that the PSB budget for the fiscal year 2015-16 has lapsed as it has not been utilized. Also, it is a known fact that the Olympic Games are always held in August every four years for which the PSB must have kept a side a sufficient amount.
Interestingly, a letter issued by PSB deputy director general tech Habib Shah is appreciative of NRAP efforts but the ground reality is totally different. The letter apart from expressing commitment to providing maximum facilities and financial assistance to sports entities states that the PSB admires the efforts of the NRAP for promotion of shooting in Pakistan.
Moreover, Javaid S. Lodhi said his association in collaboration with the Pakistan Navy had been paying the foreign coach for the last two years besides organising foreign trips of shooters. But he said the PSB which is the top sports body in the country was not ready to help his association by failing to pay the foreign coach and the shooter.
Also, he said that though the PSB had honoured hockey players for winning a gold medal in the last South Asian Games, the PSB was yet to invite shooters who had claimed 13 medals in the same Games.
“Our players are still waiting for an invitation from the PSB to be honoured despite the lapse of six months while hockey players were honoured soon after winning the medal,” he lamented while claiming that shooter Bashir had defeated many top Indian shooters in the SAF Games.
“Bashir whose current world ranking is 38 has a chance to grab at least sixth position in the Rio Olympics,” Javaid S. Lodhi said.
He further said that the NRAP would do its best to field strong shooters but was quick to add that the PSB must fulfill its obligations
He also claimed that the PSB had paid Rs1.20 billion to the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) in the last five months while it was not ready to pay a meager amount of Rs1.5 million to shooters.
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