June 3, 2011

Victorious Pakistan bridge squad gets mixed response upon arrival


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

It has become a kind of tradition in Pakistan where the sporting accomplishments, rather few in the recent times, have not been used for the promotion and further development of sports.

Everyone likes to be associated with the winners. Considerable hype is created whenever a sporting title is clinched. That’s the time when media runs after the athletes and their officials, who otherwise have to chase them to get their attention.

A couple of veteran bridge administrators of the country were taken by surprise when they caught the glimpse of so many television cameras and reporters at the Jinnah International Airport, Karachi, on June 2, who had assembled there to cover the arrival of the triumphant Pakistan squad having won the 16th Bridge Federation of Asia and Middle East (BFAME) Championship in Chennai, India, the other day.

While there was a heavy turnout of the media contingent to greet the national heroes and record their expressions, none of the officials of the Pakistan Bridge Federation (PBF) or the Karachi Bridge Association (KBA) were seen there to accord welcome to a team that brought home the title after 12 years.

Only a few associates of the Mind Sports Association of Pakistan (MSAP) were there to garland the victorious bridge outfit comprising of Rashid-ul-Ghazi, Tehsin Gheewala, Tahir Masood, Javed Ahmed, Syed Hassan Jawwad and Hasan Askari with Tariq Rasheed Khan. They also celebrated the occasion by distributing sweets at the airport.

It’s probably an indication of things to come. The PBF is quite unlikely to make any effort to cash in on the opportunity provided to them to popularize the sport.

Speaking to the media corps, Tariq Rasheed Khan, attributed the resounding success in Chennai to teamwork and consistency.

“Our team displayed tremendous self-belief and was not overawed by the occasion. We didn’t show any sign of nerves entering the final even though India had the better of us in the league matches on a couple of occasions,” Tariq Rasheed, whose team touched down at Karachi after nearly 12 hours of journey that included change of aircraft and five-hour stay at Mumbai, remarked.

“We were not much concerned even with the carryover of 12 points which the Indians had in the final. All we had to do was to keep playing well and avoid mistakes which we did and it made all the difference between winning and losing. The Indians of course were disappointed but that’s the beauty of the game,” he reminded.

He was particularly delighted at having brought to an end Indian’s winning streak in the BFAME Championship.

“Yes we have had close encounters with them in the finals over the years but somehow we were not winning the title. It’s very satisfying to have brought back the title after 12 long years. Hopefully we will be able to retain it for sometime,” he added.

When questioned about the most significant contributions to the success of his team, he singled out the pair of Rashid-ul-Ghazi and Tahseen Gheewala for having played superbly throughout the event.

Rashid-ul-Ghazi, during his brief chat with the media, disclosed that the team had received ‘timely’ tips from the legendary Zia Mahmood during the course of the championship.

“Zia was kind enough to advise us and pass on a few tricks during our discussions. It boosted our morale and we came up with the performance to win the title. Now we have to that momentum into the Bermuda Bowl World Championship in the Netherlands later this year,” Rashid-ul-Ghazi, acclaimed as Pakistan’s most accomplished bridge player for the past many years, hoped.

Tahseen Gheewala, nicknamed the baby of side, targeted Pakistan’s presence among the top eight nations in this year’s Bermuda Bowl.

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