‘A tale of broken promises’
— Athletes, footballers remain deprived of sporting facilities
A lot of athletes, footballers and young talent remain deprived of sporting facilities as Punjab Football Stadium has been in shambles for last fifteen months due to the negligence of the Punjab Sports Board (PSB).
The gates of the Punjab Football Stadium were closed on the sportsmen and general public in May 2016 as the tartan track was dug up for replacement which rendered the football pitch inaccessible as well. The tartan track was planned to be replaced in 2-3 months but the work lingered on for over 15 months.
The Football Stadium, in the past, served as the only sports facility with a tartan track (artificial synthetic running track) where hundreds of athletes from various departments and educational institutions practiced daily to harness their skills. The football pitch groomed raw talent but it has been out of bounds now.
Responding to a query, PSB Director General (DG) Zulfiqar Ghumman highlighted that he had expedited the process and an order had been placed with a German manufacturer of tartan track a month ago, adding that it would not take more than two months to install tartan track under the supervision of foreign experts as per international standards.
Ghumman also said that he had rectified different faults and the track had been extended to eight lanes, besides bedding in a drainage system. He said that the surface was all ready for the track to be reinstalled. The national athletes who are forced to practice on grass tracks find the closure of the facility detrimental to their careers as no other options were available to them within the city precincts.
Asad Ali, 13 times national athletic champion in 400 meter, who represented the country in Islamic Games as well, told APP on Sunday that he had to travel to Islamabad for practice as no tracks were available in the city, adding that female athletes were out of practice as they could not travel out of city.
The national champion alleged that PSB only provided lip service and had failed in re-laying the tartan track despite a lapse of one and half year, adding that a similar tartan track was laid in few months by the local administration in Faisalabad.
Another WAPDA footballer Shafaqat Ali said it was a tale of broken promises and Punjab Football Stadium did not appear to be on the priority list of PSB. This stadium used to serve as a sporting venue for school and college students, who were exposed to sports at a tender age. The exposure to a rare sporting facility helped in promotion of sports culture in the provincial capital.