May 6, 2019

MSAP back in business with a bang!


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Mind Sports Association of Pakistan (MSAP), fittingly a brainchild of Khurshid Hadi, arguably the brainiest individual to have ever been associated with sports arena in the country for a long time, is back with a bang. 

With a few like-minded comrades, he had launched the MSAP way back in 2007. He didn’t waste time to make the presence felt in a big way because the inaugural National Mind Sports Games staged at the Southend Club in Karachi in 2008 were nothing short of spectacular. 

Since then the MSAP has survived, mainly because of the man himself, because he never let it fade. He has had a mission from day one and he has been on it despite everything, the occasional disappointments included. 

Knowing him well enough, it’s not surprising that his MSAP has taken fresh guard and started with a bang again. 

They have joined hands with Shahzad Roy’s Zindagi Trust in the promotion of chess, alongwith The Citizen Foundation (TCF). 

“Powered by four-year sponsorship deal (2019-2022) with the Engro Foundation, we have now launched a major project of introducing chess at educational institutional level which will go a long way in achieving our mutual objectives,” Khurshid Hadi, the MSAP Founder Chairman and Director, announced during a media briefing at the Karachi Press Club on May 6. 

“The objectives of the MSAP have included the development of games of chess, bridge and scrabble by facilitation to academic institutions to establish mind sport learning/teaching and clubs. We promote public awareness for the value of developing minds especially among the youth while we organize local, national and international competitions to improve soft image of Pakistan,” he narrated. 

Emphasizing the significance of chess at school level, Khurshid Hadi shared the benefits of playing mind sports, which reflected on behavior, structuring of minds, reasoning, mental arithmetic, increase in memory, concentration and emphasis on ethical standards. 

He further remarked that mind sports also played an important part for betterment of health, protection against mental deterioration and also allowed gymnastics of mind for a person learning or playing chess.

Replying to a questioner, he talked about the plans of the MSAP to revive the National Mind Sports Games whose inaugural edition was staged with great fanfare in 2008. 

“We will be able to do it either by the year end or early next year. We are very interested and inclined towards reviving this event and it will be a matter of time when we do it,” the MSAP Chairman said. 

“It’s quite unusual for three social sector organizations to come on one platform but we, three NGOs, have decided to work together for the introduction of chess at educational institution level,” Shahzad Roy, a renowned singer, social worker and humanitarian, declared on the occasion. 

“Zindagi Trust, since its establishment in 2002, has been striving to improve the quality of education available to the under-privileged segment in particular. We have been trying to transform the education system through uniform curriculum and sports activities. Now, with the collaboration of MSAP, we are endeavouring to have chess included in the curriculum of various boards,” he announced. 

“Our collaborative chess initiatives will go a long way in transforming the lives of talented individuals. Chess is a sport which teaches wisdom and intelligence. Going by our past experiences, personally I don’t foresee hurdles or problems in having chess in the curriculum,” Shahzad Roy felt. 

To a question, he clarified that the purpose of the whole exercise will die if the students of the government schools were not its main beneficiaries. 

“It won’t an elite activity or anything like that. We will welcome all schools to include chess in their curriculum but our focus will be on the government schools,” he added. 

Besides Khurshid Hadi, the other MSAP officials present on the occasion were Kemal Shoaib, Tariq Rasheed Khan and Syed Pervez Iqbal.

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May 2, 2019

Dr Junaid Ali Shah protests at PCB’s hefty fee again


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The President of the Asghar Ali Shah Foundation and two-times former provincial Minister, Dr Syed Junaid Ali Shah, has lashed out at the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for charging exorbitantly for the purpose of holding club level tournaments.

“I had protested loudly earlier in the presence of the then PCB Chairman, Najam Sethi, who had agreed to review the hefty charges in the interest of the game. He is no more a part of the PCB but those in power should have taken the responsibility to do the needful. It’s really sickening to have such regulations which pollute the atmosphere and damage the interests of the game,” he remarked during the media launch of the 24th Dr M A Shah Night Trophy Cricket Tournament 2019 at the Asghar Ali Shah Stadium, Karachi, on May 2. 

“Since all the seven knockout games, starting from quarter-finals, have to be telecast live on Geo Super, we have deposited the PCB fee of Rs 15 lacs but we have done it in protest and we will continue fighting for the cause of the game,” he stated.

"As a mark of protest against the policies of the PCB we didn't have our matches televised last year but obviously we didn't wish to deprive the cricket community and we have chosen for the live telecast of our knockout matches as we used to do in the past," he added.

Dr Junaid Ali Shah, who is also the President of the Karachi Hockey Association (KHA), didn’t mince words in stating his displeasure with the existing policies of the sports bodies at the national level. 

“Be it the PCB or the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF), they are often found in the news for the wrong reasons. They seem to be pursuing their own agenda without realizing the gravity of the situation and the harms their actions or inactions cause from time to time,” he regretted. 

Meanwhile he disclosed that the Asghar Ali Shah Foundation, established by his illustrious father, Dr Syed Muhammad Ali Shah, will continue meeting the costs of the Dr M A Shah Night Trophy Cricket Tournament. 

The tournament, to be contested by a total of 16 teams, to be divided equally in four groups for the preliminary rounds, will be offering attractive prize money with the winners to receive Rupees five lacs and the runner-up to get Rupees two and a half lacs.

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Pakistan snooker to benefit with Alamgir Shaikh-Fehmida Mirza meeting


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA), enduring financial hardships, has a reason to smile at last as they have been assured of revival of the governmental support by the top officials at the federal level.

Alamgir Anwar Shaikh, Co-Chairman, PBSA, expressed delight at the outcome of his recent meeting with Dr Fehmida Mirza, Federal Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC), in Islamabad on April 29. 

“The Minister was briefed of the present problems and difficulties being faced by the PBSA, which was in a critical financial situation, due to the non-release of the annual and special grants from the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) and the IPC Ministry for the current financial year 2018 – 2019,” Alamgir Shaikh revealed. 

“She was also informed that we had exhausted almost all our funds, as the PSB had not released any financial assistance for the past 11 months, starting from July 2018, due to which the association is unable to disburse the monthly honorarium to the top eight senior players and the top four junior players of the Pakistan snooker circuit besides facing financial difficulty to meet the administrative expenses pertaining to the PBSA secretariat,” he added. 

“Further she was apprised of the worst financial situation being faced by the Association due to funds already incurred for the participation of the Pakistan team from its own resources for the World and Asian events, held during July to December 2018 and if the funds for the current financial year were not released before June 30 the funds might lapse and as such the association may not be able to function,” the PBSA Co-Chairman shared. 

The Minister was informed that the PBSA had fulfilled the requirement for submission of its audited accounts for the year ending June 30, 2018 to the PSB. 

The Minister assured the PBSA Co-Chairman that the federal government was in the process of uplifting the standards of sports in the country and due to the 18th constitutional amendment the Ministry had made the provincial governments responsible for promotion and development of sports in their respective provinces and as such the Prime Minister had constituted a Task Force for making recommendations to revamp the Sports system of the country. 

The Minister explained that as the National Sports Federations were autonomous bodies and generate their own funds and also receive government grants through the PSB and the Task Force has categorized the sports federations who have achieved better results and the categorization will be carried out by sports technocrats, based popularity of the game, status of the game at national level and prospects for medal winning. 

The Minister further stated that the representatives of the national sports federation would be called for a meeting to finalize the allocation of funds, which will be forwarded to the Prime Minister for approval, after which the grants would be released to the national federations. 

The PBSA Co-Chairman after his meeting with the Minister IPC, also met the Secretary Sports IPC, Akbar Durrani, and briefed him about the present difficult financial situation of the Association and also about the participation of the Pakistan snooker team in the upcoming international events.

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Value addition of KG Ramazan Festival with KCCA blessings, sponsors’ support


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The 34th edition of Karachi Gymkhana Ramazan Festival Cricket Tournament 2019 for the Omar Associates Trophy, has the blessings of the Karachi City Cricket Association (KCCA) as well as the sponsorship support of some enterprising corporations.

The details about the four-week end, due to commence on the first day of the holy month, were shared in a media briefing here at the Gymkhana’s Banquet Hall on May 2. 

The tournament, being contested by 16 teams, having been divided equally in four groups for the preliminary rounds, will be offering a record prize money of Rupees one and half million. 

The champions will be claiming a handsome purse of Rupees eight lacs while the runners-up will be collecting Rupees four lacs. Speaking on the occasion, 

Nadeem Omar, President, KCCA, and Managing Director, Omar Associates, announced that he would use his good offices for the live telecast of the knockout games of the tournament which could not yet be finalized by the organizers. 

“The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) may advise us to pay an additional charges of Rupees one million for beaming the event but we would not burden the participating teams,” he declared while questioning the logic of imposing fee for organizing club tournaments.

The KCCA President recognized that the KG Ramazan Festival, being held every year for more than three decades, has played a lead role in the promotion of T20 cricket and others took cue from them at a later stage. 

Highlighting the role of media in boosting image of the tournament, he also complimented the sponsors for having joined hands with the organizers in taking the tournament to another level. 

“Sponsors and media, besides management, play vital role and these elements are firmly behind the monumental success of the KG Ramazan Festival which has gone from strength to strength over the years,” he acknowledged.

Nadeem Omar recalled that the KG Ramazan Festival was hitting headlines even in those days when satellite channels were not there but the print media accorded it due respect and covered the matches extensively.

Tabish Javed (Master Oil), Abida Hasanali (Soneri Bank), Khalid Mani (KFC) and Irfan-ur-Rahman (Acme Technologies & Sports Intelligence) represented their respective companies in the meeting which was also attended by Abbas Saifuddin, Valika, Chairman, Tournament Committee, and Jam Nafees Ali, Honorary Secretary Cricket, Karachi Gymkhana. 

International umpire Riazuddin, who is one of the technical committee members, revealed that the PCB fee of Rupees five lacs has already been paid by the Gymkhana authorities. 

Fawad Salim Malik, President, Karachi Gymkhana, in his brief address, spoke about the monumental role of their club in support sports in general and cricket in particular over the years.

He sounded optimistic about the installation of floodlights at the Karachi Gymkhana Cricket Ground, a project that hasn’t taken off yet despite commitments by the past leaders. 

“There are indeed some security concerns involved because the club is located in the red zone. But we are trying our level best to meet the challenges and fulfill this dream of installing floodlights at our historic cricket ground,” he added.

At the end of the media briefing the KCCA President, Nadeem Omar, performed the formal inauguration of the tournament by playing a solid forward defensive stroke.

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