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Sohail Ali

LAHORE, Jan 01 (APP): It is true that Coronavirus has badly affected sports activities throughout the world including Pakistan during the just-ending calendar year 2020. And there were very few departments which spent the Covid-hit period purposefully.

Sports Board Punjab (SBP) is one of those departments which utilised this period for the online training of its officers and coaches through several webinars.

Director General Sports Punjab Adnan Arshad Aulakh,said on Friday, said that Sports Board Punjab made best use of those months when deadly Covid-19 threats were on peak.

“We also organized dozens of top sports events including historic Kabaddi World Cup during the year 2020 besides taking several significant initiatives for the promotion of sports among the young generation,” he added.

“Punjab’s male and female athletes also grabbed top position in Inter-Provincial U-16 Athletics Championship in Peshawar. Sports Board Punjab also hosted Punjab Martial Arts Games and launched Junior Tennis Academy during the just concluding year”.

He said SBP and Youth Affairs and Sports Department Punjab conducted several webinars, online training programmes for divisional, district and tehsil officers, coaches and PMU officers of the Punjab during the corona-hit months.

DG Sports Punjab Adnan Arshad Aulakh informed that as many as 25 astro-turfs have been laid in major cities of the province for the growth of hockey.

“Sports Board Punjab, under the leadership of Punjab Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs Rai Taimoor Khan Bhatti, has established several top class sports facilities across the province. As many as 200 sports grounds, stadiums and playfields are being constructed in different tehsils of the province,” he elaborated.

Sports Board Punjab launched the calendar year with the holding of historic Kabaddi World Cup at three cities – Lahore, Faisalabad and Gujrat from February 9 to 16, 2020. World’s nine top kabaddi teams – Iran, Pakistan, India, Canada, England, Australia, Germany, Azerbaijan and Sierra Leone participated in the grand event.

Pakistan kabaddi team created history when they dethroned defending champions India by 43-41 in the high-voltage final of Kabaddi World Cup 2020 and became world kabaddi champions for the first time at Punjab Stadium.

The third place went to Iranian team which toppled Australia by a margin of 54-33.

Kabaddi World Cup exploded into action with a colourful opening ceremony at the Punjab Stadium on Feb 9, 2020.

Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar and Speaker Punjab Assembly Ch Pervaiz Elahi were the guests of honour at the opening ceremony. Punjab Governor Ch Sarwar graced the grand closing ceremony as chief guest.

He awarded gold medals, winning trophy and Rs 10 million to triumphant Pakistan team while India received silver medals and Rs 7.5 million.

In January, Youth Affairs & Sports Department Punjab signed MoUs with Special Education Department Punjab and Non-Formal Basic Education Department Punjab to provide special and deserving children free sports facilities, arranging free study tours of historic places besides holding their sports competitions. Youth Affairs & Sports Department Punjab and Labour and Human Resource Department also signed another MoU for the welfare of oppressed class students on March 10.

On January 8, 2020, Punjab Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs Rai Taimoor Khan Bhatti inaugurated 4-day First Sports Board Punjab Junior Tennis Championship 2020 at the State of the Art Punjab Tennis Stadium Nishtar Park Sports Complex.

The tournament was competed in men’s singles, ladies singles, boys U-18, boys U-18 doubles, girls U-18, boys U-16, boys U-14, boys U-12, boys/girls U-10, boys/girls U-8 and boys/girls U-6 age group categories.

Sports Board Punjab and Youth Affairs & Sports Department Punjab took out a rally from Punjab Stadium to Chairing Cross to show solidarity with Kashmiri brethren on the occasion of Kashmir Solidarity Day on Feb 5.

In February, Sports Board Punjab organised Punjab Martial Arts Games Lahore 2020 at NPSC Gymnasium Hall. Over 500 male and female athletes took part in 60 different categories during the 3-day sports extravaganza.

Sports Board Punjab and Youth Affairs & Sports Department Punjab also organized Jashan-e-Baharan sports events in all parts of Punjab province from March 12 to 31. Thousands of male and female players from all nine divisions and 36 districts exhibited their potential in Jashan-e-Baharan sports events.

Jashan-e-Baharan Physical Disabled Sports Mela for special people was also organized in different parts of the province under the supervision of respective divisional and district sports officers.

Then in May, Punjab Minister for Sports Rai Taimoor Khan Bhatti visited the residence of gold medallist of 1954 Asian Games legendary wrestler Din Muhammad and awarded a cheque in recognition of his remarkable achievements in the field of wrestling.

A couple of months later, the grandson of Din Muhammad was also given a job in Sports Board Punjab.

In August, Punjab Minister for Sports Rai Taimoor Khan Bhatti awarded appreciation certificates to leading young achievers – Huzaifa Ahmed, Farhan Ayub and 9-year-old tennis prodigy Hania Minhas in a ceremony on International Youth Day.

In September, SBP organized badminton, table tennis and hockey exhibition matches in connection with Defence Day of Pakistan at NPSC Gymnasium Hall and National Hockey Stadium respectively observing all coronavirus SOPs issued by the Punjab govt.

Over 100 male and female players participated in the exhibition badminton and table tennis matches. Director General Sports Punjab Adnan Arshad Aulakh and his wife Zakia Adnan Aulakh were the guests of honour on this occasion.

On September 18, Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar laid the foundation stone of multipurpose Fazla Kachh ground in the town of Fazla in Koh-e-Suleman tehsil. DG Sports Punjab Adnan Arshad Aulakh gave a thorough briefing to Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar about the different features of multipurpose Fazla Kachh ground.

In late October, Youth Affairs and Sports Department Punjab organized Naat and Qirat competitions at NPSC E-Library in connection with ‘Hafta Shan-e-Rehmatulil Alameen (PBUH).

As many as 60 male and female students of different universities took part in Naat and Qirat competitions.

In early November, Punjab Minister for Sports Rai Taimoor Khan Bhatti inaugurated Sports Board Punjab’s Junior Initiative Tennis Academy at NPSC State of the Art Tennis Stadium.

Expert coaches will impart training to 4 to 12 year old boys and girls under the supervision of former Davis Cup captain Rashid Malik at the academy. Five practice tennis courts will also be built with the cost of Rs 50 million adjacent to Punjab Tennis Stadium.

In late November, Sports Board Punjab’s boys and girls athletics teams offered historic performance and emerged winners in Inter-Provincial Under-16 Athletics Championship 2020 in Peshawar.

Punjab’s athletes showed excellent performance in 100m race, 200m race, 400m race, 800m race, 4x100m relay, 4x400m Relay, Long Jump, High Jump, Javelin Throw, Discus Throw, Shot Putt, 110m Hurdle (boys) and 100m Hurdle (girls) disciplines during the mega event.

In mid-December, Punjab Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs Rai Taimoor Khan Bhatti and Director General Sports Punjab Adnan Arshad Aulakh toured Turkey with an aim to strengthen the sports ties with the brethren Islamic country.

During their visit, the Pakistan delegation met with Bilal Erdogan, the son of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, Governor of Istanbul Ali Yerlikaya and other top sports officials.

The promotion of traditional sports between the two countries was discussed at length during the meeting.

It was also agreed that an exchange programme of popular traditional sports will be launched between Pakistan and Turkey.

Pakistan is strong in sports like cricket, hockey and kabaddi and Pakistan will help Turkey in these games whereas Turkey will also provide expertise to Pakistan in traditional Islamic archery and other games in which Turkey is stronger than Pakistan.

Punjab Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs Rai Taimoor Khan Bhatti gave a suggestion to include kabaddi in World Nomad Games. He also invited Bilal Erdogan to attend Pakistan’s traditional sports event which he accepted on the spot.

In mid-December, Secretary Youth Affairs and Sports Punjab Fuad Hashim Rabbani conducted a Khuli Kachahri to have first-hand knowledge about the issues and problems of different sports associations, organizers and coaches at Archery Center opposite SBP E-Library.

On December 17, Pakistan’s first-ever sports anthem ‘Mai Hoon Sitara’ was launched under the Sports Board Punjab and Private Public Partnership at Punjab Stadium.

Punjab Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs Rai Taimoor Khan Bhatti was the chief guest at a colourful launching ceremony. Vice-Chairman Sports Board Punjab Rao Zahid Qayyum, Secretary Sports and Youth Affairs Punjab Fuad Hashim Rabbani and Director General Sports Punjab Adnan Arshad Aulakh were also present at the launching ceremony.

In mid-December, Sports Board Punjab also organised a 3-day Lahore Division Hockey (Women) Tournament 2020 at National Hockey Stadium.

Lahore Blue women hockey team with 9 goals and 7 points emerged winner in the event.

In the last sports event of year 2020, Dar Hockey Academy Lahore trounced Fiaz Hockey Academy Sargodha by 3-1 in the final of SBP Hi-Tech Under-17 Boys Hockey Tournament at National Hockey Stadium ground-2.

Earlier, Tahir Zaman Hockey Academy defeated Aslam Roda Hockey Academy by 3-1 in the 3rd/4th position match.