Former Senator and one of the most respected figures in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa sports hierarchy Aqil Shah has requested the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) President Lt Gen(r) Arif Hasan to include Peshawar as one of the host cities for the 14th South Asian Games in 2022.
Talking to ‘The News’ Saturday, Aqil Shah said the city had a long sports history and had always offered its services in thick and thin.
“Look we have always offered our services for the sports development in the country. We have successfully organised the National Games on a short notice not once but twice. Whenever the province was asked to put its share in sports development, the country has found us at the forefront. KP deserve to stage part of the SA Games during the forthcoming edition.”
The KP Olympic Association president said he had requested POA chief to include KP cities as one of the hosts for the event. “We have required infrastructure for different games and if we go on to host different events, this will be a big success for the province,” he said.
When this correspondent approached Arif Hasan, he admitted that the request had come from the KP Olympics Association regarding declaring Peshawar as co-host.
“That was very much in our mind. Peshawar and KP Olympic always stayed at the forefront when it comes to serving sports. The way KP organised the National Games was exemplary. The Games were earlier allotted to Quetta but were shifted to Peshawar. KP has staked a claim to organise even bigger events by successfully hosting the National Games.”
The POA chief said the SA Games are meant for the whole country and not for any particular city or province. “We may well go on to hold the event in many cities as there will be many disciplines and events.”
“During Friday’s interaction with the media on the question of venues, I made it clear that the basic principle for the selection of venues should be that the masses in greater numbers are able to watch the events live which would enhance the interest of sports. These should also be held in the “genius clusters” where the interest of the talent in the particular field of sport is re-ignited and the talent base once again gets activated and produces international athletes as before,” Arif Hasan added.
As an example, POA president said he quoted Gujranwala, Sialkot, Lahore and Faisalabad as possible venues in Punjab.
“We plan to spread the Games to other provinces and cities. Peshawar is one of the favourites to host a few events,” he maintained.
“It was also stated that Sialkot, being the producer of sports goods for the whole world, must host international events so that it gets the required projection internationally. For this, required infrastructure would be necessary along with the requirements of accommodation and transportation.”
He said these were just proposals and POA point of view. “The final decision would only be taken after consulting the government. Any city having the required infrastructure and the accommodation could be considered and the venues are not final as yet. The venues would be decided once we start holding meetings with concerned authorities in Islamabad.”