KARACHI: The Squash Colt Scheme that Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has “re-launched” had already been re-launched in June 2014, a source told ‘The International News’.
PIA on January 4 announced “re-launching its Squash Colt Scheme”, making legendary squash player Jahangir Khan its supervisor. But the fact is that the scheme had already been re-launched in 2014.The scheme was initiated and approved by Ejaz Mazhar, Director HR & Coordination of PIA, in June 2014 on the request of Razi Nawab, Pakistan Squash Federation’s (PSF) Senior Vice President then.
There are seven players enrolled in the scheme who have been getting stipends from PIA. They have been representing the country in different international events thanks to PIA.The players are Huzaifa Ibrahim, Yawar Ashraf, Aarib Imran, Fawaz Asim, Bilal Islam, Amna Fayyaz, and Ahsan Ayaz.
“No, it’s not true. It has been re-launched just now, not in 2014,” said Farhan Samiullah, the man behind this project.Farhan, who is General Manager Passenger Service, added that the programme was launched in Noor Khan’s era and those running it until recently were not professionals.
“We will launch a talent hunt scheme for which an advertisement will be given and trials will also be held to select players. Jahangir is a big name of squash,” he added.Jahangir, he added, would provide guidance to the enrolled athletes and PIA would provide the facilities. “PIA’s squash matters will now be handled by professionals,” claimed Farhan.
To a question about the already enrolled players, he said they would gauge their performance and would see if they could be allowed to continue.But a local coach said PIA had only changed the authority, bringing in Jahangir. “That’s it. It’s beyond understanding why they have ‘re-launched’ an already launched scheme,” he said.
PIA has ignored the fact that Jahangir has failed to run academies in the recent past, said the coach, adding that it was feared that the PIA Colt Scheme would face the same miserable fate even under the supervision of Jahangir.
The Champion Hunt Initiative Programme for Squash (CHIPS) launched by Jahangir in March 2015 got discontinued after only three months although it was to run for at least three years with long-term heavy investment.
Sources said the sponsors of the academy, Kazim Anwar Trust (KAAT), were disappointed by the performance of the players enrolled. And the players themselves were not happy with coaches, accommodation, stipend, and equipment, the sources added.
In January 2017, PIA stopped funding to Jahangir Khan Academy that was being run by him at National Coaching Centre because of poor results.The academy was established in March 2016 in Karachi with 10 players and two courts.
PSF’s then secretary Amir Nawaz said the funding had been stopped as it was meant for six months. “We extended it to nine months. We paid them almost Rs4 million,” said Amir.The local coach said that this project was a classic example of irrational planning. “The academy did not send any of its players to international events in this period. Their performance at national events was also not very good,” said the coach.
The coach added that the management of the academy failed to handle matters professionally as they sacked one coach and two coaches left because of their policies. Asif Khan, the head coach, also left.