Pakistan Table Tennis Federation president SM Sibtain has called for the Pakistan Sports Board to be “disbanded” and the Pakistan Olympic Association to take on oversight of the country’s sports federations.
Last year, Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan appointed former International Cricket Council president Ehsan Mani to lead a task force on sports. In March 2019, it proposed that a Pakistan Sports Education, Development and Infrastructure Board (PSEDIB) be set up to replace the PSB, according to The News.
Currently, Pakistan’s national sports federations are facing financial difficulties.
Since the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, several have been unable to participate in major international events due to a lack of state funding, according to media reports.
Sibtain said more radical changes to the country’s sports structure were required, that federations’ reliance on state funding must be reduced, and that they must seek to increase funding from corporate sponsors.
“It’s not difficult to manage finances if influential people especially from the corporate sector become heads of the federations,” Sibtain said.
“Why don’t we make heads of big companies and business tycoons of the country as presidents of various federations? It’s time to take a drastic step towards a right direction.”
Another influential critic of the government’s proposed reform is the former director-general of the PSB Arif Siddiqui, who said: “I don’t see any major change in the structure of the proposed model of PSEDIB which the government is going to establish. Already the same things are present in the existing board structure.
The government task force also proposed making the PSEDIB responsible for running sports sciences and physical education programmes to doctorate level, with the help of the Pakistan Higher Education Commission (HEC) and provincial governments.
Siddiqui also challenged this proposal, saying it would be better to tap into Chinese expertise, building on the two countries growing economic links.
“China has emerged as a leading sports nation in Asia. We benefited [from] their coaches during 1980s. We need to enlarge the scope of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and must benefit from China. HEC in consultation with Chinese universities should evaluate critically the curriculum of the existing sports subjects being taught in our universities.”