by Alam Zeb Safi
KARACHI: Football stakeholders plan to record a peaceful protest in front of the Parliament House in the next few days and ask the new government to withdraw the notification issued in the PTI regime last September through which various departments were asked to stop funding their sports teams and divert that to support regional teams.
Although no such major development has been made on that front so far some departments have abolished their teams in the light of that move from the PTI regime and some have stopped paying their players who as a result are facing massive financial issues.
“Yes, we are going to record our protest in front of the Parliament House in the next few days. We want departmental sports back. The decision of the previous government to abolish departmental sports has made a large number of players jobless and their families are suffering,” Pakistan football team former captain Mohammad Essa told ‘The News’ from his hometown Chaman on Monday.
“It was an unrealistic decision from the previous government. In cricket such decision may be okay as Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has massive funds and it can run regional system in a befitting way but the rest of the sports federations are too weak to look after their players properly if departmental teams are closed,” Essa said.
“It is not necessary that for bringing regional or club culture you should abolish your departmental teams. Look, India runs modern sports system but has not abolished decades-old departmental system as this system provides job security to the players,” Essa said.
“There are current Pakistani footballers and players of other sports disciplines who have lost jobs and have been compelled to do odd jobs,” Essa said.
“We also request stakeholders of other sports disciplines to join us in this struggle and we are hopeful that the new government will listen to us and set aside the previous regime’s decision,” said Essa, a former K-Electric captain and coach.
Essa plans to also get the support of the PML-N and Pakistan People’s Party in Balochistan. “We will take the support of the PML-N and PPP leaders in Balochistan and will try to record our peaceful protest in the federal capital,” he said.
Essa hoped that the new federal government would take a timely decision to save Pakistan’s sports from further damage. A top official of a departmental team backed Essa’s stance, saying it was absolutely necessary to do this.
“We had outrightly opposed the abolition of our team and told the government that we don’t need its funds and can run our teams independently. Its a fact that departments are the backbone of Pakistan’s sports structure and if you abolish them the whole sports will collapse,” the official told this correspondent.