Begin with small steps, build on them and in a few years you will see the results
The idea of public-private partnerships in Pakistan’s sports is innovative and can yield positive results. As funding federations has been a big issue for the government, public-private partnership may play an effective role in revenue generation for federations which depend totally on state finances. Pakistan Taekwondo Federation (PTF) has already taken an initiative and conveyed its interest to the IPC Ministry to enter into a public-private partnership with the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB).
If brokered, under the partnership, the PTF would develop the infrastructure which would be handed over to the federation by the PSB. This would benefit both the bodies and so burden on the state exchequer would be reduced.
As sports have become highly demanding and need massive investment, without such ambitious steps I don’t think we can compete with the rest of the world.
Such deals would also help the country get international standard infrastructure which could be utilised for major international events as well.
The Ministry for IPC should seriously consider the PTF’s proposal and enter into a partnership with the federation. This would motivate other federations and a healthy culture and coordination between state and federations would be developed. PTF is not the only federation which wants such a deal with the PSB. There are several other federations ready for similar arrangements. Some have already shown interest in obtaining halls from the PSB in provinces.
Although some federations believe that such undertakings would be highly challenging, others think that challenges will have to be accepted if something big is to be achieved. The government has plenty of land everywhere in the country. Such deals are possible at every level, even at the union council level.
The PSB should not think that this would reduce its influence and give more power to federations. The Board should know that such deals could take most of the pressure off its shoulders and transfer it to the federations which are considered the most influential entities in sports development.
We have seen during the last few years that sports progress has been halted because of lack of proper state patronage.
Giving the federations a few millions would not help us develop our sports. It needs investment in billions which is not possible without such public-private partnership deals.
Prime Minister Imran Khan from day one is inclined to this idea. Let’s take a step. During the last two or three years, federations have failed to implement their plans because of inadequate funding. Pakistan either missed international events or sent minimum possible athletes for just a token participation.
The federations need money and they need means to generate funds. Public-private partnership is a way to do that.
The federations can also launch academies after entering into a partnership with the PSB. That would help in moulding the raw talent into perfect athletes for national duty.
Many nations are building their sports industry through such deals. It may seem unappealing initially but if done properly it would widen scope of sports. It would make the federations more active and they would improve their governance. In the long run, it would also create a strong bond between the corporate sector of the country and the federations.
If land for infrastructure development is sufficient then much better infrastructure could be developed by the federations, which would then share profits with the PSB.
One thing which I would like to mention here is that pro leagues are very important and we will have to go towards them if we are to develop our sports.
Such leagues keep players in good financial status and that would be a motivational factor for the youth to step into sports. The experience of the kabaddi league has been good and more federations should do so. Once leagues are initiated, interest would be developed gradually and corporate sector would start investing in them. Small countries like Maldives, Bangladesh and even Afghanistan are going in that direction. Unless we strengthened players financially, we would not be able to develop our sports. We should come out of our narrow-minded approach and should take positive steps. Going for ambitious projects would also be not right. Take a small step and then build on that and in a few years you will see the results.