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Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), having pioneered the idea of launching the colts scheme in cricket, have now joined hands with a few other corporations in reviving the programme that had helped in discovering a number of promising youngsters who went on to become big names in the following years.
Former Test opening batsman and now head of PIA Sports Division, Shoaib Mohammad, himself a product of the colts progamme, has revealed that National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) and State Life Insurance Corporation (SLIC) have also been taken on board while reviving the colts scheme.
“We have recently re-launched the PIA Cricket Colts Programme that envisions hunting, selecting, growing and developing talent for professionalism in cricketing world. We have also taken the initiative of joining hands with NBP and SLIC, asking them to take up similar programmes in their respective organizations and contribute towards the progress of sports in Pakistan,” Shoaib disclosed.
As many as 267 teenagers appeared in the recent PIA colts trials from which 50 players were shortlisted. Later a high profile selection committee comprising of Hanif Mohammad, Saleem Jaffer, Iqbal Qasim and Shoaib Mohammad, assessed the candidates for their teamwork, skills, agility, attitude and potential for future growth. The panel finalized selection of 13 colts.
The 13 youngsters selected for the PIA Colts for their two-year programme are Faraz Ali, Shayan Jahangir, Abdullah Shah, Ammad Alam Khan, Amit Ravi, Imam-ul-Haq, Mir Hamza, Zia-ul-Haq, Fawad Khan, Akhtar Kayani, Jazib Mohammad, Bilal Manzoor and Bilal Nisar.
“The programme aims to ensure getting these colts to qualify for selection at PIA and national team levels, by encouraging them to demonstrating professionalism in their skills and behaviours,” Shoaib remarked.
“It intends to achieve this aim through a four pronged strategy firstly by providing academic, communication, grooming, etiquettes and computer literacy needs of these selected colts. Then for two years train and develop them, on-the-campus, in cricketing skills, thirdly introducing a mentoring program under which legends like Hanif Mohammad, Zaheer Abbas, Wasim Akram, Shoaib Malik, Shoaib Akhtar will be invited to mentor them,” he added.
“We would assess the trainees for improvement through a PIA Cricket Colts Selection and Monitoring Committee who will identify the promising players having consistent outstanding performances. Lastly, these colts would be provided with travelling opportunities by participating in matches across the country and on foreign soils,” Shoaib said.
The initiative of PIA augers well for the future of Pakistan cricket at a time when the majority of the departments, who were so enthusiastic in the promotion and development of sports from the grassroots level, have slowly withdrawn their proactive support due to various reasons.
PIA have had the history of promoting sports in a big way over the years. Their sports department may be shrinking but their recent decision to revive the colts scheme suggests that they are still interested in associating their name with sports. The PIA Cricket Academy in Karachi is another reflection of their desire not to part ways from social service.
Syed Khalid Mahmood has had passion for writing and sports since childhood. After having edited wall papers and magazines in his student life, he had started contributing to various international publications from an early age.
He joined the mainstream journalism in 1987 and his first book was published later the same year. After having studied at the famed institutions like Cadet College Petaro and Delhi College, he graduated in civil engineering from the prestigious NED University of Engineering & Technology, Karachi, in 1986.
He has earned greater fame and recognition in the field of media being acclaimed as a leading international sports writer, having worked for some of the eminent newspapers like The Frontier Post and The News International besides a brief stint with The Mississauga News. He has also appeared regularly as an analyst on various television channels.
He has already authored 12 books viz Asian Glory (2012); Reflections (2010); Cricket Fever: A History of Pakistan-India Tours (2008); Mission Caribbean: A Guide to ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 (2007); World Cup 2003: Top of the Charts (2005); Spotlight on World Cup 2003 (2005); World Cup 1999: So Near Yet So Far (2000); Pakistan’s Sports Greats (1997); Pakistan: The Land of World Champions (1995); Pakistan’s Triumph in World Cup 1992 (1993); The Caribbean Challenge: A History of Pakistan-West Indies matches (1989) and Focus on World Cup (1987 and 1994).
He has had an active social life throughout. Having founded The Young Champs in 1984 he became the District Secretary of Rotary International District 3271 (Pakistan) in 2015-16. Besides being the Founder President of the NED Alumni Association, he is also the Vice President of the Delhi College & Schools Old Boys Association. He is also a member of The Petarian Association, Arts Council of Pakistan, Karachi Press Club, Pakistan Engineering Council and Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists.
His write-ups are carried by innumerable portals and websites across the world while his exclusive articles on the web, having grown in popularity, could be accessed on his blog at www.skmsports.com
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