June 30, 2010

CCA launches Inter-Academies League


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

The NBP Inter-Academies League Cricket Tournament is being held separately for the Under-16 and Under-19 outfits with four institutions taking part in the inaugural event.

The Head Coach of the Customs Cricket Academy and a former Test fast bowler, Jalaluddin, briefed the media about the salient features of the recently launched initiative at the NBP Sports Complex in Karachi on June 29.

National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), United Bank Limited (UBL) and Pakistan Customs are the three participating departments while Karachi Gymkhana are the fourth team to have entered the event.

Jalaluddin revealed that both the Under-16 as well as the Under-19 tournaments will be organized on double league basis with each team getting to play a home and away match against every opponent.

In order to make the contests more interesting, he added, bonus batting and bowling points will be on offer for the various landmarks during the course of every game.

“The tournament will continue for the whole of July and the teams securing the highest points at the end of the league matches will be declared the winners. All the matches will be 40-overs-a-side contests with the fielding to bowl 15 overs an hour,” he said.

“The basic idea behind launching these contests is to promote club cricket in Karachi in real sense of the word. There is more club cricket in Karachi than any other city of Pakistan but the problem is that its quality is not of the desired class. We aim to bridge this gap by bringing in professional management to tap the raw talent,” Jalaluddin, who holds the record of registering the first hat-trick in One-day Internationals, remarked.

“This NBP Inter-Academies League Cricket Tournament will enable more than one hundred promising teenagers to display their talent. We will monitor their progress and shortlist the outstanding performers for further training and grooming,” he continued.

Jalaluddin explained that only those academies having a ground of their own were extended the invitation to take part in the tournament.

Former Test left-arm spinner and Head of the NBP sports department, Iqbal Qasim, reckoned that the tournament, being organized by the CCA, will go a long way in reviving club cricket besides raising the standard of the sport.

He stated that the expertise of the CCA will be greatly beneficial in accomplishing the objective. He felt that the tournaments like these help in creating a larger pool of young cricketers who get the opportunity to come into limelight at the strength of their performance.

The briefing was conducted by the tall off-spinner Haris Ahmed Khan, now one of the qualified coaches at the CCA.

Cricketers born on or after January 1, 1994 are eligible to take part in the Under-16 tournament while those born on or after January 1, 1991 could play the Under-19 competition. The outstanding Under-16 cricketers will be allowed to appear in the Under-19 tournament.

The seven-man organizing committee of the NBP Inter-Academies League Cricket Tournament is headed by Jalaluddin with Anwar Farooqui (NBP Sports Complex), Khurram Mannoo (Karachi Gymkhana), Mansoor Akhtar (UBL), Ataullah (Vital Five Club), Waqar Hussain (CCA) and Anwar Khan (NBP) being the other members.

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June 29, 2010

KPC Summer Sports Festival set to kickoff


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

All is set for the KPC Summer Sports Festival 2010 to kickoff at the Karachi Press Club on June 30 with Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui, Secretary Sports & Youth Affairs to the Government of Sindh, to inaugurate it in a colorful ceremony.

The festival is being organized by the Sports Committee, with the collaboration of the Indoor Games Committee, at the Karachi Press Club from June 30 to July 24.

As many as five games, snooker, chess, scrabble, badminton and table tennis, will be contested during the festival being supported by the sports department of the Government of Sindh.

The festival, offering cash awards to top performers, will commence with the snooker tournament from June 30 to July 3 to be followed by chess and scrabble (July 5 to 10), badminton (July 12 to 17) and table tennis (July 19 to 24). It will be open to the members of the KPC only and the entries will be closing two days before the start of every tournament.

The Mind Sports Association of Pakistan (MSAP) has volunteered to offer technical assistance for the chess and scrabble tournaments while the Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA) and the Karachi Table Tennis Association (KTTA) will be providing technical support to the competitions of snooker and table tennis respectively.

The involvement of the respective professional bodies in conducting the various events will add value to the festival besides allowing the Sports Committee to concentrate on administrative matters.

The Karachi Press Club has actually revived the tradition of holding sports tournaments for its members. The senior members of the club like S M Fazal and A Majid Khan have often been heard recalling those sports events of the yesteryears in which the members of the club used to participate very enthusiastically.

Talking about enthusiasm there is greater response already than was being anticipated from the members and the number of entries in the snooker tournament went into double digits within an hour of the announcement appearing on the club’s notice board.

The KPC President, Imtiaz Khan Faran, is thrilled by the response and the build-up for the upcoming event and he didn’t mince words in stating that the club is actually meant for such activities that could provide recreation to the members and their families.

“Yes the club should be a place where the members and their families could come over for spending time nicely. We have been trying to develop more facilities in order to serve the purpose,” he added.

Imtiaz Faran feels that the club should be having a swimming pool besides facilities for other indoor games.

The KPC Secretary, A H Khanzada, is also ecstatic with the buzz around the club created by the sports festival.

“We have provided an opportunity to our members to demonstrate their sporting prowess. By the look of things the word has already spread and there is a talk about it among the members that’s very heartening indeed,” he observed.

The KPC Sports Festival is certainly going to bring smile on the faces of the members of the club who are generally engaged in carrying out gruelling duties in the field. It's a humble effort to let them enjoy for a while away from work.

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June 26, 2010

Traditional sports competitions attract massive crowds


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

After having successfully organized the 13th edition of the Sindh Games in Karachi earlier this month the Ministry of Sports & Youth Affairs of the Government of Sindh kept up the momentum by promoting the traditional sports as a part of the birth anniversary celebrations of Benazir Bhutto, a former Prime Minister of Pakistan.

The Sindh Sports Board (SSB), an organ of the provincial Ministry of Sports & Youth Affairs, staged competitions of wanjwatti, kodi kodi and malakhro on June 22 in Karachi and Tando Mohammad Khan.

Handsome cash prizes were disbursed among the outstanding performers of all the three events and the presentation ceremony was held immediately after the conclusion of the one-day tournament. Karachi hosted wanjwatti and malalkro events while Tando Mohammad Khan was the venue of the kodi kodi contest.

Wanjwatti, kodi kodi and malakhro happen to be the most popular sports in the interior of Sindh as a result of which all of them have remained a part and parcel of the Sindh Games since its inception in 1986.

While the Sindh Olympic Association (SOA) has struggled for survival over the years due to a combination of factors, the provincial government has taken interest from time to time to bridge the gap and keep the sporting spirit alive.

The initiatives of the Ministry of Sports & Youth Affairs of the Government of Sindh in the recent past have given a new lease of life to all kind of sports activities and the duo of Sindh Sports Minister, Dr Mohammad Ali Shah and the departmental Secretary, Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui, has made things happen at a much faster pace than ever before.

Their strategy is activity-based and they desire to develop sports from every angle and in every nook and corner of the province. Be it an Olympic sport or a non-Olympic one they have set their sights on generating activity round the year to keep the youth engaged in healthy environment.

One of the areas of focus of the present regime is the traditional sports having witnessed plenty of activity of late. Dr Shah and Shoaib Siddiqui seem to have realized the importance of the games that bring joys to the hearts and minds of the people.

It’s indeed a great idea to promote the traditional sports in a big way. They my not make the headlines in the newspapers or create a breaking news on television channels but the development of the games like wanjwatti, kodi kodi and malakhro is a huge service to the society.

The grounds wear festive look whenever such events are held in any part of the province. Be it the beach of Karachi or a stadium in Jacobabad the traditional sports tournaments attract and thrill the spectators.

Indeed these games are quite a spectacle and a way of life to many. The action brings to life the whole locality and the festivities enchant the area population. It’s such a pleasing sight to watch the crowd so much involved in the game.

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Bridge makes fabulous entry in Sindh Games


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

The pair of Raza Naqvi and Anwar Kamal wrote their name into record books by winning the first-ever bridge gold in the Sindh Games at the Aslam Bridge Hall, housed in National Stadium, Karachi.

Raza Naqvi-Anwar Kamal won the pairs contest by scoring 60.88% while Khalid Mohiuddin-Mubashir Puri (59.95%) and Anwar Kazilbash-Ghulam Mohammad (58.38%) claimed silver and bronze medals respectively.

The inclusion of bridge in the 13th Sindh Games generated tremendous interest and a record number of 34 pairs entered the competition. It was the largest number of competing pairs in any of the contest in Karachi.

Masud Mazhar, by aggregating 67.01%, earned the honour of securing the gold medal in the individual championship with Ghulam Mohammad (65.31%) running away with the silver medal and Dr Ahmed Hasan (62.93%) clinching the bronze medal.

A total of 32 bridge players, featuring the top 16 of the pairs championship, took part in the individual contest that included the big guns like World Master Jan-e-Alam Fazli.

A couple of players from Larkana were expected to feature in the individual championship but they could not participate as they had arrived at the venue when the third round was being played.

Bridge was included in the Sindh Games for the first time in 24 years and not surprisingly it brought more glories for Karachi who won the trophy for the 13th time in succession.

Karachi dominated the Sindh Games in general but it was a totally one-way traffic as far as bridge was concerned with all three medals in both the bridge competitions being grabbed by the local players.

The total dominance of Karachi in bridge was not unexpected in view of limited avenues available in other towns or regions of the province. Hyderabad has had its presence but the same could not be said about Larkana, Mirpurkhas and Sukkur.

The inclusion of bridge in the Sindh Games opens the doors for the Pakistan Bridge Federation (PBF) as well as the Mind Sports Association of Pakistan (MSAP) as both the bodies are eager to spread the game.

The PBF don’t have a Sindh chapter yet but they could give it a thought now following the inclusion of bridge in the Sindh Games whose next edition is due to be held early next year.

The PBF may be constrained constitutionally and some amendments would need to be incorporated in order to facilitate a new provincial body which might be a time consuming effort considering the fact that they are governed by the Securities Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP).

In the interim period the PBF could mobilize their resources in organizing tournaments in the towns like Hyderabad, Sukkur, Nawabshah, Mirpurkhas and Larkana where bridge does have a certain amount of following.

Another option of accomplishing breakthrough could be extending the MSAP Collegiate Programme to other parts of Sindh after its successful launch in Karachi.

The Sindh Games has definitely provided an opportunity to the bridge administrators and the ball has now moved to their court. How swiftly they meet the challenge remains to be seen.

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June 25, 2010

India’s rare title win as Sri Lanka choke in final


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

History and odds favoured Sri Lanka when they took the field against India in the final of the 10th Asia Cup 2010 in Dambulla on March 24. But for a change the Indians, known to be the chokers at the last hurdle, found their fancied opponents playing that role and handing them over the trophy for the first time in 15 years.

It was one of those rare matches which India managed to win without being in total control. Generally they have had the habit of throwing it away from position of strength but this time they emerged triumphant more because of the follies of their rivals.

It’s not often these days to find a team batting first adding only 55 runs to its total in the last 10 overs of an innings in a limited overs contest. Even the likes of Ireland, Zimbabwe, Scotland and Bangladesh would be expected to collect more runs if they reach the 40-over mark with only four wickets down.

The Indians have had this tendency of not making the most of the death overs for a long time but still getting less than run a ball in last 10 overs while losing only a couple of wickets in the bargain was something beyond imagination.

When you have Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma out in the middle at the stage there’s likelihood of them taking the fight to the opposition. But it was really pathetic to watch them bat without purpose and that too in the final of a tournament.

May be the Indians were scared of the kind of collapse they had suffered in the previous game when they lost their last six wickets for 20 runs after being 189 for four but that should have been forgotten as soon as that nightmarish contest was over for them.

India, though, lived to the reputation of fumbling against run of play yet again. Dinesh Karthik, having played so well, was guilty of mistiming a full toss from part time leg-spinner Thilana Kandamby and getting caught near the deep mid-wicket fence by Mahela Jayawardene.

Kandamby, having not taken any wicket in One-day Internationals before, could hardly believe his luck when he had the well-set Mahendra Singh Dhoni plucked brilliantly at point. It could have been match defining moments.

Earlier the run out of Gautam Gambhir going for third run was a shame. Yet again he was guilty of strolling in the middle when he should have actually sprinted. It’s amazing how he gets away with it in the team meetings because his act of walking leisurely in the process of completing runs is something that can’t be tolerated at the international level.

India’s eventual total of 268 appeared far too short on a pitch where batting wasn’t a difficult proposition but thanks to the Sri Lankan top-order the target became out of reach and the rest was a mere formality.

Dhoni, whose team had succumbed in not too different fashion in the Asia Cup final against Sri Lanka at National Stadium, Karachi, a couple of years ago, was the relieved man this time.

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June 22, 2010

Prof Anwar Chowdhry is no more


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

There was a time when Prof Anwar Chowdhry had a larger than life presence on the sports scene. He was acclaimed as an influential global leader who earned the distinction of being the first Pakistani to head an international sports body.

Boxing was his forte but his charisma was spread in nearly every sport and he was recognized as one of the most powerful administrators in Pakistan. With the age taking its toll and the ailments limiting his movements he gradually lost control having receded in the background by the time he breathe his last.

His burial took place in Karachi on June 21 and one of the greatest sports personalities of the country was laid to rest in the presence of some prominent athletes and a large number of his friends and admirers. He had died of cardiac arrest on June 19.

Chowdhry Sahib, as he was affectionately called in the local sports circles, was one of those characters who would be missed for a long time to come. Blessed with some outstanding leadership qualities he had his own ways of doing things and obviously not every one was pleased with the manner he tackled the problems or the issues at different levels.

He had always taken pride in pointing out that while all other leading administrators of the country were content in taking the ceremonial slots of Vice President in the various international bodies he was the one who rose to the ‘executive’ position of the President.

He was quite right because he did make history by becoming the President of the International Boxing Association (AIBA) that he headed for quite a few years. As a matter of fact the squash legend Jahangir Khan is the only other Pakistani in the 63-year old history of the country to have led an international sports body.

While Prof Anwar Chowdhry was the helmsman of the AIBA, Jahangir Khan had the honour of being elected as the President the World Squash Federation (WSF) a couple of times.

The international sports community knew Prof Anwar Chowdhry primarily because of his boxing connection. But things were different at the national level where he was considered as an iron-man of the sports arena, having developed a clout that was impossible to be ignored.

Controversies also remained a part and parcel of his long career in sports administration at all levels. He was ousted from the AIBA rather unceremoniously a few years ago while his role in the affairs of the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) and its component body, the Sindh Olympic Association (SOA), also came under the hammer.

He’s believed to have enjoyed absolute power as far as the SOA was concerned for a long period and he was blamed in his lifetime for being chiefly responsible for having kept the provincial Olympic body dormant for a number of years.

He had lost interest in the SOA affairs when it was finally revived in the middle of the 1990s and the group he had kept intact for decades disintegrated soon afterwards.

Although he made overwhelming contribution in putting Pakistan on the boxing map of the world, he was criticized for not having done enough for the promotion of the sport at the national level.

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June 21, 2010

Singh is King once more


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

The encounter between Pakistan and India in the ongoing 10th Asia Cup 2010 in Dambulla lived up to the reputation of another high voltage contest that kept the cricket enthusiasts across the border glued to their television sets until Harbhajan Singh smashed Mohammad Aamer for a huge six in the last over to settle the issue.

It was typical of an Indo-Pak match as India very nearly lost the plot in the closing stages after being in control of the proceedings. Only they could have been expected to lose a 50-over game even when needing just over run a ball in the last 10overs with as many as seven wickets in hand.

Pakistan, on the other hand, have had a history of coming back from the dead. They almost did it once more. Only they could have been expected to pull it back after being outplayed in the earlier phase of the game.

Pakistan’s total of 267 was unlikely to test the Indian batsmen even if they played to half of their potential. Well the Indian batting didn’t fire with Virender Sehwag looking completely out of sorts. Gautam Gambhir, however, batted with purpose and put his team in a commanding position.

With skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Rohit Sharma on top of the bowling India appeared poised for a resounding win, even after the departure of Gambhir. But the equation changed dramatically in a matter of a few overs as not only the key wickets tumbled but the run rate was literally jammed.

The dismissal of Dhoni summed up the story. He was paddling a delivery that was certain to be declared a wide had he missed it. Instead the ball changed direction after finding the edge of his bat and he was clean bowled. Ravindra Jadeja is still not the batsman a team like India needs at number seven and he failed again, not unexpectedly though.

That brought two new batsmen to the crease in Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh. While Raina, we all know, had the capacity to take the attack to the opposition but with an asking rate of 10 for the last five overs explosion was needed from both ends.

Harbhajan, who had not been allowed to bowl his full quota of overs by the Pakistan batsmen earlier in the day, made amends with heroics with the bat. He was not afraid to attack Pakistan’s express bowlers and he was able to complete the job after losing Raina in the final over.

India finally won the match by three wickets with just one ball remaining which they could have easily pocketed by seven wickets with quite a few overs in the bag. The Indians came perilously close to having thrown the match from a position of complete control yet again.

The Indians, according to Man of the Match Gambhir, were keen to settle the scores with their arch-rivals after having been floored by Pakistan in the last edition of the ICC Champions Trophy in South Africa. The objective was accomplished albeit unconvincingly in the end.

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June 18, 2010

Regular editions of Sindh Games to improve standard, infrastructure: Dr Shah


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

“The staging of Sindh Games every year will lead to the improvement in the standard of sports besides the development of infrastructure projects in the different corners of the province.”

This was observed by Sindh Sports Minister, Dr Mohammad Ali Shah, who is also President of the Sindh Olympic Association (SOA), in an exclusive chat at the Asghar Ali Shah Stadium on June 18 on the sidelines of the closing ceremony of the 13th Sindh Games 2010.

Dr Shah, who has not been in the best of health for the last few weeks and is getting treatment in London, had come to Karachi for a few days primarily for the Sindh Games which he desires to hold every year.

He dashed back to London only a few hours after the conclusion of the 13th Sindh Games but he took key decisions before his departure including the one of holding the 14th Sindh Games at Sukkur in early 2011 to be followed by the 15th Sindh Games at Mirpurkhas at the start of 2012.

“It was the turn of Mirpurkhas to play host to the just concluded 13th Sindh Games here but the baton could not be passed on to them last year due to the lack of facilities over there. We have planned to develop a couple of mega projects in the interim period to let them hold the Sindh Games in 2012 in style,” Dr Shah disclosed.

“There are multiple benefits of holding the Sindh Games every year as originally planned at the time of its launch in 1986. Unfortunately the annual event was organized only 11 times in the first 22 years but we have controlled the damage by holding it in Larkana last year and now another edition has just concluded in Karachi,” he pointed out.

“Not only the standard of sports will improve in this part of the country but a lot of infrastructure projects will also come up to host the growing number of events. Our athletes will get the much needed practice to compete more purposefully in the national and international meets,” Dr Shah reckoned.

When his attention was drawn towards the huge gap between the athletes of Karachi and rest of the province with the hosts picking up 115 gold medals in the 13th Sindh Games and their nearest rivals Hyderabad bagging only 15, he said a lot was needed to be done by the provincial associations to promote their respective games in the interior regions.

Dr Shah, as chief of the provincial Olympic body, faces a daunting prospect of motivating the officials of the provincial associations because the majority of them still remain unfamiliar with the virtues of professional management.

Arif Ali Khan Abbasi, during his tenure as SOA helmsman, had tried to get the best out of the affiliated units but there was not much success and he had to quit without making the kind of contribution he was expected of. It remains to be seen if Dr Shah would be able to turn the SOA into a vibrant entity.

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Sindh Games concludes with a spectacular ceremony


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

The curtain fell on the 13th Sindh Games 2010 with a spectacular closing ceremony under floodlights at the Asghar Ali Shah Stadium in North Nazimabad on June 16. There was live music and fireworks to entertain the participants and the cheering crowd.

Sindh Education Minister, Pir Mazhar-ul-Haq, declared the Games closed after awarding the Mohenjodaro Trophy to Karachi, who extended their complete dominance in the provincial event by winning it for 13th time in a row.

He complimented the provincial sports department to have held two editions of Sindh Games in successive years while urging them to offer greater encouragement to the practitioners of the indigenous sports like malakhro, kodi kodi and wanjwatti.

Sindh Sports Minister, Dr Mohammad Ali Shah, who is also President of the Sindh Olympic Association (SOA), attributed the success of the Games to teamwork and he recognized the contribution of the various individuals and institutions.

Dr Shah, chiefly responsible for having the Games staged in the unlikeliest of situations, was himself the motivating force behind the spectacular closing ceremony held at the stadium built by him in 1994.

It was in the fitness of things that the Sindh Games came to the Asghar Ali Shah Stadium with a bang. It was for the first time that the picturesque stadium, having hosted fabulous cricket matches on a regular basis, hosted a Sindh Games event and what an occasion it turned out to be. It was a memorable evening for the young athletes in particular who were even amused by the settings.

In his welcome address, Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui, Secretary Sports & Youth Affairs to the Government of Sindh, did observe that the smiles on the faces of the participating athletes and their officials from every nook and corner of the province was a reflection that sports indeed spread happiness.

He didn’t mince words in stating that his department had been entrusted to organize the Sindh Games at a short notice and they had to mobilize all their reserve energies to meet the challenge.

Karachi Region, by securing as many as 115 gold medals, stood head and shoulders above their nearest rivals Hyderabad who bagged 15 gold medals with Sukkur, Larkana and Mirpurkhas sharing the next three positions. Larkana, however, had the consolation of collecting the Fair Play Trophy.

The individual glories also came Karachi’s way as the versatile female athlete, Almas Ibrahim, repeated her feat in Larkana a year ago by bagging seven gold medals again. Javed Taqi was declared the best male athlete for having earned seven gold medals in swimming.

The 13th edition of the Sindh Games lasted three days in which the male athletes competed in 36 disciplines and the female athletes had 17 events to participate. The mind sport of bridge made a debut with individual and pair events. Another heartening feature of the Games was the overcast weather condition much to the relief of the participating athletes.

There were odd reports of organizational mismanagement during three high voltage days but it was not unexpected in the situation the event was being held.

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June 16, 2010

13th Sindh Games 2010 inaugurated with great fanfare


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

The 13th edition of Sindh Games, promoting the theme of tolerance and carrying the slogan ‘sports spread happiness’ was inaugurated in a colourful ceremony at the PSB Coaching Centre in Karachi on June 14.

Sindh Home Minister, Zulfiqar Mirza, declared the Games open on a pleasant and overcast evening in the presence of Sindh Sports Minister, Dr.Muhammad Ali Shah, who is also the President of the Sindh Olympic Association (SOA), and Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui, Secretary Sports & Youth Affairs to the Government of Sindh.

South Asia’s fastest woman, Nasim Hameed, having made the country proud earlier this year, had the honour of lighting the torch of the Sindh Games being held in her hometown, Karachi, for only the third time in 24 years. Veteran athletes Mohammad Talib and Syed Zahid Ali Rizvi also ran with the torch.

The record number of participating male and female athletes and officials, estimated to be over two thousand, attired in different coloured tracksuits participated in the march past. The promising local sprinter Almas Ibrahim, who clinched as many as eight gold medals in the last Sindh Games in Larkana, took the oath on behalf of the athletes.

Karachi Heroes, Hyderabad Champions, Larkano Tigers, Sukker Riders and Mirpurkhas Superstars are the five regions, comprising of all 21 districts of the province, participating in the three-day extravaganza.

The Olympics disciplines being contested during the Games are athletics, basketball, boxing, badminton, cycling, football, gymnastics, handball, hockey, judo, karate, rowing, swimming, softball, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, weightlifting, volleyball, wrestling and wushu while the non-Olympic sports are kabbadi, bodybuilding, bridge, chess, netball, softball, throwball, kodi kodi, malakharo, muaythai, wanjh watti and shootingball.

The male athletes are in action in 36 disciplines while the women folks are trying their luck in 17 disciplines. As many as 15 venues across the city are being used to stage the Games with the majority of the events being organized at the PSB Coaching Centre, NED University, Karachi University, Sindh Sports Complex Nazimabad and City Sports Complex, Kashmir Road.

The outstation participants, to be paid Rs.250 as the daily allowance for five days, have been provided accommodation in the various hotels besides the hostel of the Karachi University. Originally it had been planned to lodge all the athletes in different educational institutions but there was a last minute move to make arrangements at hotels.

Due to a combination of factors not all the athletes could be provided the track suits before the start of the Games but the organizers didn’t deem it proper to delay any of the events allowing the participants to compete in any other sporting dress.

All the contingent heads, however, were considerate and they expressed satisfaction with the overall arrangements made for the Games and they complimented the provincial government for having met the challenge against the heaviest of odds.

The quintet of Mushtaq Ahmed (Karachi), Rahat Ali Shah (Hyderabad), Iqbal Hussain Makani (Larkana), Abdul Hamid Rajput (Sukkur) and Iqbal Hussain (Mirpurkhas) confirmed having received the daily allowance for their respective contingents.

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June 13, 2010

Glory for Argentina ahead of big battle


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

The much awaited FIFA World Cup Football 2010 kicked off with great fanfare in Johannesburg, South Africa, on June 11 but one of the side events that created waves was the Miss World Cup 2010 Pageant held in Rust, Germany, on June 1.

The Miss World Cup Pageant featured 32 contestants representing each of the participating team in the World Cup in South Africa.

The 17-year old Jennifer Scherman of Argentina won the contest. In second place was Miss Greece, Katerina Giannoglu and she was followed by Miss Netherlands Avalon-Chanel Weijzig.

Jennifer Scherman not only walked away with US$ 6000 and an all-paid trip to Egypt but she brought smiles on the faces of the people of Argentina ahead of the mega event in the field of play. It was considered a perfect gift to the legendary Diego Maradona in particular.

Her triumph must have thrilled her football squad in South Africa who took the pleasure in already winning a World Cup trophy even before the actual kick-off.

A similar event was held in same city on the eve of the FIFA World Cup Football 2006, featuring the representatives for all 32 countries in which Togo’s Edwige Madze Badakcu having run away with the crown.

I think there’s more to see than read about such an event therefore let me conclude this write-up without more narration.

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Sri Lanka favourites to lift trophy


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Of the four participants in the 10th Asia Cup Cricket Tournament 2010, starting in the city of Dambulla on June 15, hosts Sri Lanka appear to be the most formidable outfit to run away with the trophy nine days later.

Sri Lanka and India currently share the record of having won the Asia Cup on the highest number of occasions. Both of them have annexed the title four times each with Pakistan emerging triumphant only one time in nine editions of the continental tourney launched way back in 1984.

History may not be on Pakistan’s side as far as the Asia Cup is concerned but they remain the team to beat in every tournament. Their tendency of bouncing back from the dead keeps every opponent on its toes because they have had this ability of causing huge upsets against the run of play.

Although India appear a stronger outfit than Pakistan at the moment there’s every possibility of the latter advancing to the final where they should meet Sri Lanka unless and until something dramatic happens during the one week of action.

It can’t be said with conviction whether Pakistan would be benefiting by the comeback of the controversial duo of Shoaib Malik and Shoaib Akhtar because neither of the two most gifted of cricketers have been particularly famous for raising the team spirit.

On the contrary they had been accused of either flouting team rules or creating rifts within the team. It remains to be seen if they would take the field with a positive frame of mind to erase the bitter memories of the past.

The return of the two Shoaibs provides Pakistan the much needed experience. It’s an area that should comfort skipper Shahid Khan Afridi, who had a raw outfit at his disposal in the ICC World Twenty20 a few weeks ago.

With the seasoned campaigners like Mohammad Asif, Kamran Akmal and Abdul Razzaq to complement the young guns like Mohammad Aamer, Umar Akmal and Umar Amin, the Pakistan line-up can prove the experts wrong once more by claiming the Asia Cup.

The enigmatic Indians will have a point to prove after the debacle in the recently concluded three-nation ODI series in Zimbabwe where they could not even enter the final.

I don’t know how the Indian cricket authorities look at it but the dismal performance of their youngsters in Zimbabwe should serve as a wake-up call and they need to revisit their strategy to remain a force to be reckoned with in international arena.

Hosts Sri Lanka have no such worries. They clinched the three-nation tourney in Zimbabwe despite having rested some of their key players. Now they have reinforced their squad with the experienced hands to become the most potent side entering the tournament.

Sri Lanka, who had whipped India in the final of the last Asia Cup at National Stadium, Karachi, in July 2008, should walk away with the title once more if they play to their potential.

Bangladesh, I am afraid, have little chance of doing anything more than causing an odd upset although their skipper Shakib-ul-Hasan feels that his team is more suited to 50-overs game that Tests or T20 versions.

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June 12, 2010

HBL School Coaching Project concludes


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

The chairman of the Pakistan Veterans Cricket Association (PVCA), Fawad Ijaz Khan, has underlined the importance of coaching at the grassroots level in cricket while acknowledging the support of Habib Bank Limited (HBL) for in this particular field.

Speaking at the certificate distribution ceremony of the HBL School Boys Cricket Coaching Project, the PVCA Chairman also made a special mention of Alamgir Ahmed in the promotion of school level cricket.

Alamgir, it may be recalled, was recently awarded ICC centenary medal in recognition of his services to the promotion of the game. He has remained associated with the PVCA for quite sometime, having organized numerous events for the veterans as well as the teenaged students.

Fawad Ijaz, the motivating force behind the formation and subsequent professional running of the PVCA, paid glowing tributes to his team for having delivered against the heaviest of odds.

“Despite the reservations of some of the members, we decided to embark upon on this project which has finally come to a successful end. Our association has been actively playing its role in the sphere the corporate social responsibility,” the PVCA Chairman observed.

Former Pakistan fast bowler and the country's most qualified coach, Jalaluddin, in his speech pointed out that long-term planning was required to groom the talent that could strengthen cricket at the grassroots level.

Jalaluddin’s Customs Cricket Academy (CCA) had joined hands with the PVCA in the year-long HBL School Boys Coaching Project that concluded with the presentation ceremony at the Karachi Gymkhana on June 10.

“We need to improve our coaching system at the lower level to prepare better brand of cricketers. Better quality cricketers for the future could not be guaranteed without launching such kind of long-term coaching programme,” he reckoned.

He lauded the contribution of Pakistan Veteran Cricket Association (PVCA) in selecting the 21 boys from their Inter-Schools competition last year for getting them enrolled for the coaching programme.
Jalaluddin, who holds the record of registering the first-ever hat-trick in One-day Internationals, believed that it was very important to provide the youngsters with the coaching facilities from the moment they take to the game.

“Coaching helps at every stage of one’s career but proper training and guidance at the beginning provides the athlete the best possible chance to succeed. Therefore we should mobilize our resources to groom the talented youngsters for which we need to patronize schools cricket in particular,” he added.

Those who attended the year-long training and got certificates included Saifullah Bangash, Ali Ahmed, Khurram Shahzad, M.Zarnab, Asad Ali, Faisal Tahir, Umair Arif, Faraz Ali, Jawad Alam, Farhan Anwar, Daniyal Mansoor, Omer Arshad, Hasnain Raza, Ahsan Mirza, Masood Zahoor, Junaid Ilyas, Fawad Khan, Faraz Baig. Jibran Ahmed, Sheraz Ali and Faraz Ahmed

Director PVCA and ex-President Karachi Gymkhana, Iqbal Umer, KCCA President, Syed Sirajul Islam Bukhari, and PVCA Secretary, Brig (Rtd) Salahuddin. also spoke on the occasion.

The ceremony was also attended by HBL SEVP Shahid Fakhuruddin, Sports Head, Abdul Raqueeb, former Test cricketers Sadiq Muhammad, Liaquat Ali, ex-Test umpire Mahbboob Shah, former Cricket Secretary, Karachi Gymkhana, Masroor Mirza, and other officials.

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Sindh Government completes hat-trick with hockey course launch


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Hockey has been at its lowest ebb in the country following the debacle in the World Cup earlier this year in which Pakistan finished last among the 12 participants. Since then a campaign has been orchestrated by the former hockey greats to oust the officials of the federation but no result has come so far.

There is a little difference between hockey and cricket as far as running their apex bodies in the country is concerned. While cricket, for the last year and a half, has been governed solely by Ijaz Butt there are two persons, not one, calling the shots on the hockey front during the same period.

Asif Bajwa, Secretary of the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF), has been more in the spotlight for the wrong reasons because he wears far too many caps with the support and protection of his highly influential boss, Qasim Zia.

With the top PHF officials preoccupied in finding ways and means to counter the tirade against them in order to stay afloat, the vacuum has been filled by the Sports and Youth Affairs department of the Government of Sindh having recently launched a five-month long hockey course as part of the Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Youth Development Programme (BBSYDP). The opening ceremony of the course was held at the Hockey Club of Pakistan Stadium in Karachi on June 10.

Quite remarkably the proactive department, under the dynamic leadership of Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui, Secretary Sports and Youth Affairs to the Government of Sindh, has completed a hat-trick with the launch of the hockey course.

The provincial government, as part of the BBSYDP, has now initiated coaching courses in three games. Before turning to hockey they had started the courses for the cricket and football coaches.

It’s quite a monumental effort on part of the department to have undertaken three programmes simultaneously. All these three courses for the coaches have been launched in a matter of weeks. In fact hockey and football courses began on successive days.

They have made the right decision by engaging the respective controlling bodies of the game because it seemed the best way out to get the accredited coaches besides the top venue for this purpose.

One has to agree with Shoaib Siddiqui that coaching played a vital role in preparing and developing the skills of the athletes and the standard of the game can not be strengthened at the grassroots level without the involvement of the coaches.

The Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Qaim Ali Shah, must feel satisfied over the fact that the sum of Rs 13 million he allocated for the project is being utilized in the manner it was desired and the coaching courses being organized in as many as three games will indeed help in sports promotion.

The participants in all the three courses are being paid a monthly stipend of Rs.6,000 with the outstation trainees getting a further Rs 3,000. Besides getting this amount they are also gaining the experience that would come handy in their career.

The Deputy Secretary Youth Affairs to Government of Sindh and Project Director, Saleem Ahmed Siddiqui, deserves to be complimented for having worked tirelessly to ensure the successful launch of all the three training courses.

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June 11, 2010

Sindh Government launch five-month football course


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Football remains one of the most popular sports of Pakistan despite the lack of infrastructure and poor administration. The passion for the game has not died down and the following, contrary to the popular belief, is understood to be on the rise with the new generation into it.

It’s very heartening to find the Sports and Youth Affairs department of the Government of Sindh having taken the initiative to launch a five-month long football course under the banner of Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Youth Development Programme (BBSYDP). The course was launched at the PSB Coaching Centre in Karachi on June 9.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui, Secretary Sports and Youth Affairs to the Government of Sindh, observed that the provincial government was trying their best to promote sports in the nook and corners of Sindh.

He pointed out that coaching played a vital role in preparing and developing the skills of the athletes and the standard of the game can not be strengthened at the grassroots level without the involvement of the coaches.

He revealed that the Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Qaim Ali Shah, has allocated Rs 13 million for this project under which the coaching courses are being organized in as many as three games.

The provincial government, as part of the Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Youth Development Programme (BBSYDP), will be organizing coaching course hockey after having started the courses for the cricket and football coaches.

“Just as we have organized the training course for the cricket coaches with the support of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) the football and hockey coaching courses are being held with the collaboration of the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) and the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) respectively,” Shoaib Siddiqui said.

“A monthly stipend of Rs.6,000 is being given to the participants of the course belonging to Karachi while the outstation participants are paid Rs.9,000 per month,” he added.

“Here’s an opportunity for the coaches to fine tune their skills and become even better professionals to serve the cause of the game,” Shoaib Siddiqui reckoned.

Those attending the football course are Pervez Ahmed (Larkana), Ali Haider Jamali, Imdad Ali (Dadu), Shahid Ali Baloch, Imran Ali, Sheharyar (Mirpurkhas), Abdul Hafeez (Ghotki), Shah Khalid, Hafiz Asad Hussain, Syed Bukhtiar Ali Rizvi (Hyderabad), Haseeb Hasan, Muhammad Arsalan Sharif, Yasir Arafat, Noor Ali, Ali Ahmed and Azeem Sharif (Karachi).

The women participants attending the football course are Zehra Abbas, Afshan Fatima, Nuzhat Zehra and Ambreen Hameed, all of them hailing from Karachi.

The PFF Director, Youth and Grassroots Management, Siddique Shaikh, is supervising the course. He firmly believed that the five-month course will hugely benefit the participants who are getting the opportunity of learning about the basics of coaching besides learning the latest techniques of imparting training to the athletes.

The opening ceremony was also attended by Deputy Secretary Youth Affairs to Government of Sindh and Project Director, Saleem Ahmed Siddiqui, PSB Director Coaching Centre, Zulfiqar Abro, Event Coordinator Asif Azeem and ADO Mushtaq Ahmed

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Pakistan may not be able to hire foreign snooker coach immediately


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

The plans of the Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Federation (PBSA) to acquire the services of a foreign coach could be in jeopardy if the allocation for sports in the federal budget for the financial year 2010-11 was not revised.

Alamgir Anwar Shaikh, President, PBSA, has not minced words in describing the proposed cut in the budget as catastrophic for sports in the country.

“Obviously each and every federation affiliated to the Ministry of Sports will be affected and ours would be no exception. The curtailment of funds will spell disaster for sports in Pakistan and many of the plans in pipeline would be severely affected,” he noted.

“We had successfully negotiated a deal with Sanjay Sawant of India to coach our cueists after the Federal Ministry of Sports had agreed in principle to take care of the expenses. But in the prevailing scenario the chances of the Ministry meeting the commitment are very remote indeed,” Alamgir Shaikh reckoned.

“We had approached Sawant only after been given this understanding by the Ministry. We held negotiations with him during the recently concluded Asian Snooker Championship in Thailand. Sawant had agreed to coach our cueists according to the worked out timetable,” the PBSA President, who was to ink the deal upon the release of funds for this specific purpose by the Federal Sports Ministry, added.

The PBSA had planned to hire Sawant for a three-month coaching programme and he was to train the Pakistani cueists in three phases for the major international events to be held later this year and early next year.

Sawant was due to visit Pakistan, had the deal been signed, for the first time before the Asian Games before returning to conduct coaching sessions for the preparation of World Snooker Championship to be held in December.

Sawant’s proposed coaching stint was also to train the local cueists for the 1st Asian 6-Red Championship, the 12th Asian U-21 Snooker Championship and the 27th Asian Snooker Championship to be held early next year.

The PBSA had started eyeing a foreign coach to improve the skills of the local cueists in general and the youngsters in particular who were unable to come up with consistent performance at the top level.

With Mohammad Yousuf, the only Pakistani to have been crowned at the international and continental level, past his prime and Saleh Mohammad, who did possess the material to bring home a major title, having moved to neighbouring Afghanistan the PBSA has been left with no option but to groom the young guns to become world beaters.

To make matters worse the experienced hands like Khurram Hussain Agha and Naveen Kumar Perwani, who dominated the domestic circuit for quite a while, could not maintain the consistency to earn the much needed title for the country.

Mohammad Sajjad has emerged as the new shining light but he too fell at the last hurdle in the recently held Asian Snooker Championship in Thailand. Then there are promising youngsters like Asjad Iqbal and Mohammad Asif who also have the potential to make their presence felt. The coaching stints, as planned by the PBSA, could fast track the rise of these talented young cueists.

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June 10, 2010

Yuvraj gets wake-up call


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

The manner in which Yuvraj Singh was moving around in the ICC Twenty20 in the West Indies last month there should not be any debate about his exclusion from the Indian squad for the upcoming Asia Cup.

He didn’t appear fit mentally or physically during the course of the tournament and he was a mere shadow of his own former self. Gone was the spark in his fielding and also missing was his usual aggression with the bat. The man who used to be an asset for the side with his all-round versatility had become a liability.

Yuvraj, a master blaster in his own right, has been short of runs from his own high standards for the past many months. He has been laid low by fitness problems and the form has also deserted him in the limited appearances that he has been able to make in this the most turbulent phase of his career yet.

Known and feared for taking the attack to the opposition he used to be an automatic choice in the star-studded Indian batting line-up in the limited overs matches for the past one decade.

The Indian selection panel, led by the enterprising former opener Krishnamachari Srikkanth, appears to have made the right decision of having ignored him for the Asia Cup because Yuvraj didn’t deserve to make the cut in his present form and there was no point in picking him on mere reputation.

I think the Indian selectors have learnt their lessons quickly. They have realized sooner than later that drafting the left-hander in the ICC Twenty20 side was a blunder and that he should be sidelined at the moment.

Almost every batsman has had to endure a lean patch in a long career. Yuvraj now has to work hard to regain form and fitness to stage a comeback because the young guns like Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma are standing right there to grab his place.

The 28-year-old Yuvraj does have the skill and time at his disposal to bounce back but the road to recovery may not be as easy as it looks like. He will be needed to prove his fitness and get runs at the domestic level before resuming international career.

He had an ordinary IPL earlier this year and he was even removed from captaincy of the Kings XI Punjab whom he had led pretty well in the earlier two editions of the tournament. There were just a few flashes of brilliance and his side sorely missed his aggression in the middle.

He’s reported to be having a dodgy shoulder and knee for quite sometime. In fact his knee has needed surgery which he has been putting off since 2006.

It goes to his credit that he has still played quite a few match-winning knocks for India despite being handicapped by injuries but they look like taking its toll with so much of cricket around. Consistency is what he lacked, however, and he has finally been given a wake-up call.

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June 4, 2010

Ron Fergie’s eternal affair with a game called cricket


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

One of the most fascinating aspects of cricket is the association of lovely characters with it. Unlike quite a few other sports, it’s not restricted to the athletes. There are many flavours of cricket and its so many characters immortalizing the sport.

The 85-year-old Ron Fergie, now living in Australia’s capital, Canberra, is one of the most adorable characters to be associated with the gentleman’s game. His fairy tale could be a source of motivation to many individuals. His example of courage and fortitude should inspire people.

He was unable to walk because of a disease in his hip joint from the age of seven to 10 but only a couple of years later he had captained his school cricket and football teams and he went on to play first grade cricket in Perth, Western Australia.

At the age of 25, after his left leg was severed early in the cricket season, he played out the same season wearing an artificial leg. In fact, reportedly, he kept playing and enjoying club cricket until he was 72!

Having missed key cricket years while serving overseas, he was dropped from North Perth’s strong first-grade side, which included five then current or past West Australian State players.

On November 5, 1949, in his next match in a second-grade game at Perth Oval, he had responded with a century and again dreamed of playing for Australia. He was in high spirits as he left the oval on his motor bike, but at the first intersection a drunk driver hit him at speed. Fergie landed in the middle of the floor of a shop 60 feet away from the impact, his leg so badly mangled that it was amputated that night.

Perth Oval was in sight from the hospital balcony and on the following Saturday, the second day of the match, his team lined up on the oval at afternoon tea time to wave to him, while he waved back with a bed sheet. Perhaps they were saluting a career cut off in its prime, but before that season was over, he was playing again!

The leg, however, did not heal properly and he had to undergo a second amputation at the end of that season. At first he played with a wooden leg, hinged from a thigh strap and hanging from an over-the-shoulder harness.

The artificial leg restricted him to fielding in slips at first, but he adapted well to wicket-keeping and batted with a runner. He was sufficiently agile that not much of the fast bowling got through him, even on one occasion when a very quick bowler did his block and sprayed 17 successive no-balls past the batsman.
The versatile character that he was, Fergie went on to play first grade, as an opening batsman and wicket-keeper, with several Canberra clubs and was still playing first grade into his 40s.

Because of several overseas assignments he was not able to play continuously. He lectured in economic statistics in Tokyo for two years in the 1970s, followed by four years as National Statistician for the newly-emerging nation of Papua New Guinea where he played in the same team as his son Bob.

He played two seasons in Wellington, New Zealand, and some social cricket in Japan and Jamaica. In Japan, women were posted around the boundary to toss the balls back.

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South Africa complete whitewash without being in total control


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Well it’s quite incredible how the fortunes of the West Indies cricket have changed. The team that was known and feared for inflicting whitewash rather ‘blackwash’ to its opponents now finds itself at the receiving end.

In the days when Clive Lloyd and Vivian Richards were at the helm of the affairs, with the battery of fast bowlers doing the demolition act, it was rare to find teams being spared of a whitewash while confronting the West Indies.

But that era has now become history and Chris Gayle leads a team that cannot be expected to escape punishment when coming across the fancied outfits like Australia and South Africa. They may get away with it against the formidable Indians but they are extremely unlikely to come good against any other strong team.

To rub salt to the injury the West Indians have now been blanked in the five-match series of the One-day Internationals (ODIs) at home. Obviously the result would have bitterly disappointed the home fans but it wasn’t entirely surprising when judging by the body language of the combatants.
The South Africans were fortunate in the sense that they had to face an opposition devoid of spirit and the will power that used to be their forte in the past. It was more a case of the West Indies committing suicide rather than the South Africans playing extraordinary cricket to generate this kind of result.

Graeme Smith’s men, wounded by yet another early exit in an ICC event, managed to complete a clean sweep against the West Indies despite not having been in total control during the series. They scampered home by just one wicket in the fifth and final game in Trinidad after having shown the same kind of nerves that didn’t allow them to proceed beyond the Super Eights at the World Twenty20.

"It's terrific to have achieved this result, and bounce back from the failure at the Twenty20 World Cup. It was an important time for us as a group of people, and it was important for us to regain the faith of a lot of the public back home. I think a lot of the fans back home in South Africa support us through thick and thin, so it is nice to give them all something about which to feel good," Smith acknowledged.

"The last few games have been too close for comfort. We have chased on some pretty flat pitches, and West Indies have controlled the games at different times, and we have lost wickets at crucial times. But we have held our nerve. Winning is a habit, and when you get into tight games, and you are used to winning, you are able to limp over the line," he added.

"We seem to be in a bad habit of losing, and when it comes down to these tight situations in matches, we do not know how to handle ourselves. It's been tough losing this much. The good thing is we have a few days off to put this behind us, and hopefully, we can get a fresh start in the Test series," Gayle remarked rather in hope rather than expectation.

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Sportsmasala.com launch Tissot FIFA World Cup Predictor Game


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

The football fever has started gripping the world and sportsmasala.com, the pioneering sports portal in Pakistan, has recently launched a prediction game on FIFA World Cup Football Tournament 2010 which will run in tandem with the mega event.

The game, sponsored by Tissot, a renowned Swiss watch company, could be played on www.sportsmasala.com and the registration is free with prizes to the tune of Rs 200,000 on offer. The World Cup game is spread over two competitions with the first one asking for predictions of interesting statistics and the second one relates to the results of the matches and the performance of the participants.

It’s titled Tissot FIFA World Cup 2010 Predictor Game and can be played on www.sportsmasala.com. It is indeed a must visit site for all football fans who can follow the latest Cup news via a live RSS feed, keep up-to-date with group standings, interesting facts and above all win handsome prizes, including the stylish Tissot watches. The registration for the game is free and open to all with a valid email account being the sole requirement.

The launching ceremony of the event was held on May 29 in which Salahuddin, a cricket celebrity, was the guest of honour. On this occasion he distributed cash prizes among the winners of the Tissot EPL Predictor game on the same website, which was based on the 2009-2010 English Premier League season.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Tissot Watches Pakistan, Pakistan, Rumman Ahmad, in his welcome address had briefed the audience about the salient features of Tissot FIFA World Cup 2010 Predictor Game while also throwing light on the Tissot EPL Predictor game.

The Tissot EPL Predictor game, it may be recalled, had offered awarded weekly, monthly and overall prizes which included cash prizes, watches and other gifts from Tissot, as well as audio equipment from Bose.

The Tissot FIFA World Cup 2010 Predictor Game comprises of two competitions. The first one asks for predictions of interesting tournament statistics such as the total number of goals scored, fastest goal and who will score the first goal as each question will be awarded points and the winner will be the person with the highest points tally.

The second competition relates to matches and participants have to predict the scoreline in every match. However, they don't have to be totally correct to earn points. While an accurate prediction earns full points, one can also make semi-accurate predictions such as the correct number of total goals, the winner of the match. to earn partial points and stay in the game.

Tissot has been associated with the football for over a decade by having Michael Owen, the English and Manchester United striker as their Brand Ambassador. Judging by the ever-increasing popularity of football in the country, they have backed this venture enabling Pakistanis to get an interactive experience of this premier football showcase.

The sports partnerships have always been an integral part of the Swiss watchmakers they have been involved in timing world class sporting events for decades. Partnering with active athletes like Michael Owen also underlines the dynamic nature of the brand.

Tissot, the ‘Innovators by Tradition’, has been pioneering craftsmanship and innovation since its foundation in 1853. It’s a member of the Swatch Group, the world’s largest watch producer and distributor. For over 154 years the company has had its home in the Swiss watch making town of Le Locle in the Jura Mountains but now also has a presence in over 150 countries. www.tissot.ch provides more information about the company.

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