Is there method to the madness?

KARACHI: All Pakistan’s leading players in various disciplines are ready to showcase their talent in the 33rd National Games which begin at Peshawar on Sunday (today), z.National Games were, earlier, scheduled to be held from October 26 to November 1 but were rescheduled because of the dharna staged by JUI-F at Islamabad.National Games have their importance. The Games faced uncertain fate for years. Quetta was supposed to host the edition but could not do so due to various issues. Eventually the Games were shifted to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which owns solid infrastructure. The KP government and KP Olympic Association’s president Syed Aqil Shah did a fine job to make preparations for the biennial spectacle whose some events will also be held in Charsadda, Mardan, Abbottabad, Islamabad and Karachi.But my subject of today’s article is that whether National Games would affect the performance of national athletes in the 13th South Asian Games or this event would help them. The South Asian Games are to be held in Nepal from December 1-10.Some people say that National Games are blessing for Pakistani players who will be featuring in South Asian Games.These people are of the opinion that as the government failed to hold camps for the athletes for SAG due to various issues the departments compensated for that damage to certain extent by holding camps for their players for National Games. They say that this preparation for National Games will help them when they compete in SAG.After discussing the issue with a number of experts I have come to the conclusion that the National Games current timing may hurt the athletes’ performance in SAG.Players had attained top form and were at their peak when National Games were rescheduled because of the dharna.Experts told ‘The News on Sunday’ (TNS) that the players use proteins and when they reach their peak and the event is postponed then they face issues.They say that the world level players can handle such a situation as they take rest and think about their game plan, watch videos of the athletes they are supposed to fight with.But how will our players be able to cope up in this situation? Hardly 14 days after featuring in National Games, Pakistani players will have to feature in SAG and it will be a terrible situation. Experts say that many of them may get injured or their performance will be poor during SAG.Experts say that there should have been at least one and a half month gap between the National Games and the South Asian Games.They say that the 14 days gap will be crucial for the players to maintain their peak form. The experts say that after featuring in an event players need proper rest and they start from zero while launching preparation for the next challenge.They said that no one cares for the athletes in Pakistan. They were of the opinion that South Asian Games were more important than National Games and the authorities should have focused on the Nepal event instead of holding the National Games.It is a reality that our athletes have been facing different issues and there is nothing certain for them because of a poor sports system.Proper scheduling is very important. The last National Games were held in 2012 in Lahore. I know that it is not easy to administer sports in a country like Pakistan where sport is not a priority. But we should take judicious decisions and follow the path which could benefit the athletes. I hope national coaches will properly guide our athletes to maintain their top form during the two-week period ahead of the SAG.A leading Pakistani player told ‘TNS’ that if there had been 20 to 25 days ahead of the SAG it would have been much better. “But still damage can be controlled if coaches take care of their athletes properly during the 14 days,” the player said.“If coaches give players a week rest after National Games and enable the athletes to make recovery in the remaining one week ahead of SAG then there is no harm in featuring in National Games, a low standard event,” the player said.Another issue which can damage Pakistan’s medal chances in SAG is the uncertainty about how many athletes will feature in SAG. The authorities should have decided the number of athletes for each discipline long ago.After finishing third behind India and Sri Lanka in the 12th SAG held in India in 2016 it was important for Pakistan to prepare solidly for the biennial regional spectacle being held in Kathmandu and Pokhara. Due to the lack of interest from the authorities, neither were training camps held nor were foreign coaches hired.

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