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No cash reward from govt hurts Asian Squash winner

08 May, 2013

ISLAMABAD: Newly-crowned Asian Individual Squash champion Aamir Atlas Khan showed utter disappointment over the attitude of President Asif Ali Zardari and Caretaker Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso, who didn't bother to announce any reward despite being fully aware of the fact that this event was won by a Pakistani after a gap of almost 14 years.

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In an exclusive interview with The Nation on Tuesday, Aamir said: “I was expecting that keeping in mind my achievements, President or Prime Minister will announce a handsome cash incentive for not only me but also for the head coach Jamshed Gul, who remained instrumental in guiding me towards prestigious title. But to utter disappointment, none of the high-profile personalities bothered to announce incentive for him and his head coach.”

Aamir said it was a matter of grave concern for all the sporting persons that whenever any neglected sportsman or woman won laurels for the country at international levels, they were totally ignored, but when a cricket or hockey team, despite not winning the titles, came back to Pakistan, they were showered with countless benefits, both in shape of cash and other perks and privileges. This was the main reason behind the decline of all the other sports in the country, he added.

“Players need appreciation and they want to be recognised at the highest office in the country which will surely motivate them to continue superb performance and winning laurels for the country,” he said.

Aamir said his department Wapda was organising a function in his honor today (Wednesday) and they had announced a cash of Rs 100,000 and Pepco chief had also announced a cash prize from his own pocket, while his department had also promoted him to grade 18. “I am very thankful to my department Wapda as they have taken the first giant step in honouring a national hero.”

Aamir said the Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) would also arrange a reception in his honour today (Wednesday). “I expect better treatment from the federation as I will not accept anything that will be below my dignity.”

Admiring his head coach Jamshed, Pakistan No 1 said: “Jamshed's achievements in last 16 months or so is a proof of his caliber as he transformed same bunch of players who were giving ordinary performances before him in world-beaters. So head coach also deserves high-level recognition from the federation for giving the country some moments of joy.”

When this scribe asked Aamir whether he would come for the trials matches for the selection of Pakistan squash team for the World Team Squash Championship, he replied: “The PSF should have exempted me and Farhan Mahboob from the trial matches. Anyhow, I need physical and mental fitness instead of appearing in trial matches so I will focus on the task ahead. I have to prove my fitness by beating all the top professionals and much higher ranked PSA players who came in my way enroot to the Asian Squash triumph.

Keeping a mum at such a prestigious victory will not serve the cause of the country and especially players. Aamir's triumph should be widely lauded as he refused to accept the offer of former world squash champion Jonathan Power, who wanted Aamir to accompany him to Canada and offered him lucrative incentives in return, but Aamir denied this offer because of his sheer love and passion for his country and preferred to stay at his homeland and to continue to represent the country in international events.

How many players have same courage to refuse such an attractive offer? There is hardly any such example so the PSF and government should act swiftly and address the genuine concerns of the favourite son of the soil before it's too late.


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