Usman Khan

PESHAWAR: Although the government has announced establishment of playgrounds in all sub-divisions and promotion of sports activities in merged districts, players in the area are not satisfied with these steps.

TNN in its Manzal Pa Lor program has conducted panel discussion with national-level players and sports journalist on difficulties faced by players in tribal districts and required facilities in sports grounds. Guests in the panel included Naveed Khan, a football player from North Waziristan, Jabir Afridi, Karate player from Khyber district, Muhammad Farooq, taekwondo player from South Waziristan, Oryan Jasia, KP top-ranked lawn-tennis player from Mohmand, and Hafeezullah, sports journalist.

Oryeen Jasia said she hails from Upper Mohmand and she is captain of her team. She said many people from tribal districts live in Peshawar and other parts of the country. “Tribal youth are very talented in sports, but sometimes they lag behind due to lack of facilities. It is a matter of pride for us that the government has now announced provision of sports facilities in merged districts,” she said.

About her achievements, she said she has reached to the quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals of countless tournaments. “The tournament in Malaysia in which I reached the final was a special occasion for me which turned around my sports career. Quaid-e-Azam Trophy title was also a big achievement for me. I have never seen another female player who has excelled in the field of tennis. I want more tribal women to come to this field and make name for themselves,” she said.

Oryeen Jasia said she visited Mohmand and Waziristan in 2018 and saw a lot of talent in players in these areas. She said players play in fields due to lack of proper grounds, but they play so well.

“There are negligible sports facilities in Mohmand. During my visit to Shewa, Waziristan, I noticed that there was great football and cricket talent. There is no dearth of talent in tribal districts and the only problem is lack of facilities,” she said.

Oryeen said she would like to advise girls from tribal and settled districts to join the field of sports and make name for themselves and the country.

Hafeezullah said while talking part in the discussion that Fata has become part of KP and it has got sports budget. “We are happy even if the amount of budget is not sufficient, because previously we did not know what the tribal areas got in the head of sports funds. It will greatly benefit the tribal youth and upcoming players from tribal districts,” he said.

Hafeezullah said limited funds have been allocated for establishment of playgrounds which will even fall short for construction of boundary walls of playgrounds. However, he said, the government officials are making assurances that these funds will be increased with the passage of time.

“A ground will be established in Landikotal. Bara already has a stadium and Mohmand also has a small ground. The budget seems to be too little for the announced projects, but we should keep good hopes for the future,” he said.

Naveed Khan said stadiums exist in Bajaur, Mohmand and some other areas, but playgrounds are direly needed in some backward areas like erstwhile frontier regions (FRs).

“Local players play football in grounds where there are a lot of stones and there is threat of injuries to players. I haven’t seen any playground in Janikhel, FR Bannu, and football players play on stony surface. These players have great talent and they will go a long way if they get facilities,” he said.

The football player said no doubt Younis Khan Stadium has been established in North Waziristan, but Shawal and Razmak are big tehsils where there are no sports facilities. He said there is no playground either in Bakakhel or Janikhel areas.

Muhammad Farooq said the government has made good announcement for providing Rs.60 million and Rs.40 million in phases for sports development in tribal districts.

“What happened in past is a separate discussion. The current steps by the government are worth appreciation,” he said.

The taekwondo player said South Waziristan also has shortage of sports grounds. He said there is a football ground in Wana where sports activities are conducted. “A sports gala was also organized there recently. South Waziristan is a big district and facilities for cricket, football etc. are scarce. The facility of indoor games seems to be a wishful dream. There is only one or two grounds where people gather and take part in sports activities,” he said.

Farooq said sports associations are doing their work with same dedication which they used to do before merger. He said several international players are included in the sports associations.

Jabir Afridi said announcement of funds and establishment of grounds will promote sports activities in tribal districts.

“Many players from tribal districts are playing on national and international level and we are hoping that more such players will emerge from the area when they will get facilities,” he said.