Tuesday Apr 19 2022

New govt may revive departmental sports

A representational image of a bat placed near the stumps in a cricket ground. — Online/File
A representational image of a bat placed near the stumps in a cricket ground. — Online/File

LAHORE: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif pledged to address issues of sportspersons who have lost their job due to the closure of departmental sports divisions, The News reported Tuesday.

According to sources close to the Sharif family, this assurance came when Sindh local government minister Nasir Hussain Shah requested PM Shehbaz to restore departmental cricket.

Shah said that thousands of players and officials lost their jobs due to the closure of cricket and other sports departments. “With appeals from different quarters floating in, the government is likely to consider reviving departmental sports in the country,” sources said.

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The sources further added that the government is considering reinstating all departmental sports teams, which were shut down by the former government.

He further stated that plans are being made to direct the departments to revive their sports teams. Former Test cricketer Iqbal Qasim, who was considered a big supporter of departmental cricket in the country, quit the chairmanship of the cricket committee in September 2020, citing the non-serious attitude of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) towards the issue.

While Pakistan skipper Babar Azam has remained quiet on the topic of departmental cricket revival, his cousin Kamran Akmal, former captain Salman Butt and offspinner Saeed Ajmal have spoken in support of the revival of the departmental sport.

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Former captain Misbah-ul-Haq and all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez faced backlash from the PCB after they raised the issue with former PM Imran Khan in a meeting in Islamabad.

After the closure of departmental sports, several cricketers, players, coaches, groundsmen, umpires and referees had to do odd jobs to earn for their families.

Port Qasim Authority was the latest department to close its sports section. It did so just a day before Imran Khan was ousted from office through a no-confidence motion. WAPDA, one of the biggest employers of sportspeople in the country, has asked its employees in the sports department to report for office duty.