Karachi stays afloat in troubled waters
Swimmers in Karachi have left the sport due to lack of facilities and enough support from the government.
The Pakistan Swimming Federation (PSF) is affiliated with the Federation Internationale de Natation (Fina) since 1948, just one year after its independence in 1947.
“The biggest misconception about the swimming federation in general public is that it is responsible for the provision of better swimming facilities in the society,” said Veena Salman Masud, who is Trinidad-born and educated. She is the secretary of Pakistan Swimming Federation.
“But I would like to make it very clear that the federation is supposed to organize events and competitions at sports complexes. It is only possible when the government releases the promised funds that they are supposed to issue,” she added.
Chaudhary Abdul Aziz is the national record holder of breaststroke. He holds records for 50m and 100m breaststroke. Pakistan Swimming Federation sent Aziz for a swimming trainer’s course in Doha, Qatar. Aziz said, “Swimming infrastructure in Sindh is not exactly the same as that of International standard due to lack of funds. Sindh Open takes place in Karachi but there is hardly any representation of players from Hyderabad, Sukkur and other cities of interior Sindh.
Aziz is currently affiliated with the Pakistan Swimming Federation as a swimming instructor explained that it is not only the lack of facilities that is the reason for lack of swimming talent coming in front. It the lack of proper physical training and not enough sources to fulfill the proper diet needed for swimmers. Azaz said, “The proper diet of a swimmer includes fresh juices, boiled eggs, nuts, milk and chocolates and not everyone pursuing this career can afford it.”
Last year, the Sindh government imposed the ban on swimming pools after a sixth-grade student drowned at Habib Public School during a swimming class. “The schools where swimming facilities are available should stop swimming facilities forthwith and submit a detailed report of the swimming trainers/coaches who will conduct swimming class for students,” reads a notification issued by the Sindh’s School Education and Literacy Department.
Swimmers who once thought to pursue this sport as a career at an early age even after being prominent with winning some titles but they had to leave swimming somehow. Their parents saw that the government is not supporting the players with their education.
Mohammad Saad Amin, who had to leave swimming career to continue his education, talked about his achievement before discontinuing swimming. He said, “I have won gold medals in 100m freestyle, 100m backstroke, and 200m freestyle. I was also a part of the four-member team including Ms. Lianna Swan, Ms. Anum Bandey and Haris Bandey that were selected for the FINA event that was held in Kazan, Russia in August 2015.”
Aziz was also concerned that there should foreign coaches for Pakistani swimmers and also training for local coaches according to the international standards as well. “These are some basic steps which need immediate attention from the Government of Pakistan. Otherwise, due to lack of sponsor’s attraction, the future of this sport will be dark, but till then it will stay afloat in these difficult times for swimmers in Pakistan.” He added.