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Ali Tahir Saraf

NIL

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Hilal English

Champions of the Desert: Balochistan

June 2024

In Balochistan, our athletes don't just play sports; they defy odds, rewrite records, and conquer hearts. From the rugged mountains to the global stage, they prove that where there's passion, there's no limit to what we can achieve.


Balochistan, by surface area, stands as the largest among the four provinces of Pakistan, covering 347,190 km² (134,051 mi²), which accounts for approximately 44 percent of Pakistan’s total land area. The province exhibits a notably low population density, attributed to its rugged mountainous terrain and limited water resources. Its southern region, Makran, and central region, Kalat, delineate distinct geographical zones. According to the 1998 census, Balochistan housed a population of roughly 6.6 million inhabitants. It shares borders with Iran to the west, Afghanistan, and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) to the north, while Punjab and Sindh provinces lie to the east, and the Arabian Sea bounds its southern periphery. Balochi, Brahui, Pashto, and Sindhi constitute the principal languages spoken in the province. Quetta is the sole city and capital, with other settlements largely underdeveloped. The Baloch and Pashtun ethnic groups dominate, while a heterogeneous mix, primarily of Sindhi origin, represents the third major ethnic grouping.



Balochistan boasts a storied sporting history dating back to British colonial rule in the sub-continent. The province has nurtured numerous exceptional athletes, including football luminaries such as Abdul Sattar “Satto Lala”, Juma Khan "Friday," and Qayyum Changezi. Notably, Balochistan has produced a world-class player, Hidayat Jahan, in squash, while in hockey, Olympian Muhammad Shafique left a lasting mark. In boxing, Syed Ibrar Hussian Shah, an Olympic Bronze Medalist, and Asghar Ali, a medalist in the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games, represent the province's illustrious heritage. Afzal Awan, a remarkable sprinter renowned for his prowess in the 100m and 200m events, captivated audiences throughout his extensive athletic career. Presently, emerging talents like boxer Muhammad Waseem have ascended to international acclaim.
Additionally, Balochistan boasts promising male and female martial artists who have clinched trophies and medals, including gold, in global tournaments. These exceptional athletes have largely attained distinction through unwavering personal dedication and fervor for their sports. The potential of these motivated individuals, if supported with resources akin to athletes in nations with rational policies valuing merit, effort, initiative, and achievement, is boundless.




Efforts must be made to reinstate sports activities vigorously within schools, colleges, and universities across the province. Specifically, the resumption of inter- and intra-level competitive sports events within educational institutions is imperative. Popular competitive and recreational sports such as football, hockey, volleyball, boxing, martial arts (including Judo, Karate, Wushu Kung Fu, and Taekwondo), squash, shooting, archery, athletics, marathons, and cross-country cycling should be prioritized. It's crucial to emphasize that these activities and facilities should be inclusive, devoid of gender specificity or exclusivity. These immediate measures necessitate comprehensive reorganization, meticulous planning, and urgent action to rekindle sports activities, particularly within educational institutions and at club and departmental levels.
It is essential to engage major institutions and influential individuals effectively in initiatives aimed at revitalizing sports in the province. Departments can be enlisted to contribute to the overarching governmental endeavor by backing or sponsoring departmental clubs and teams. Moreover, mass media platforms can be pivotal in disseminating promotional messages. For instance, introducing provincial sports TV and YouTube channels can significantly bolster these efforts.
Players from Balochistan demonstrate fervent participation across various sports departments. Specifically, the Army Sports Directorate maintains over 40 sports teams engaged in national and international competitions, including Military Games, with a significant contribution from Balochistan. It would be important to acknowledge that among athletes aspiring to represent Pakistan internationally, athletes from Balochistan often emerge as frontrunners. 




Balochistan's athletic excellence is exemplified by remarkable female and male athletes across various sports. Rabia Batool has distinguished herself in Wushu and Kickboxing, securing multiple medals including gold at the 12th Women National Championship in Quetta (2019) and international championships in Iran, Azerbaijan, and Egypt in 2019. Zahra, another Wushu champion, has earned gold medals in every national championship from 2017 to 2023 and a silver medal at the World Wushu Virtual International Championship in 2021. In Taekwondo, Naila Ikrami has consistently excelled, winning gold at the 2020 SA Garden National Taekwondo Championship and the 2022 15th Korean Ambassador National Taekwondo Championship. Karate champions, Miss Arzoo and Miss Sabira Gull, have each won multiple gold medals at national and South Asian championships, while Miss Farista and Miss Mah Gull have also achieved significant success. Judo star Miss Asma Rani has accumulated numerous medals, including gold at the 8th National Judo Championship (2017) and silver at the 13th South Asian Games (2019). Among male athletes, Sepoy Irshad Ali, Sowar Humayun, Sowar Rehmat Ullah, Sowar Mansoor Ahmed, Sowar Shams Ud Din, and Sowar Waheed Ullah have excelled in Karate, winning multiple national and South Asian medals. In Taekwondo, Havildar Rafi Ullah and Haroon Khan have achieved considerable success, with Haroon Khan amassing a remarkable tally of gold medals across various championships. Additionally, Eid Muhammad has made his mark in Wushu and Kickboxing with significant victories in international competitions in Kazakhstan and Russia. 
This assertion is substantiated by examining the leaderboard that is aligned with these parameters. It is not merely a gesture of acknowledgment but a concerted effort to honor the heroes of the Pakistan Army contingent hailing from Balochistan.
Balochistan's athletes exemplify dedication and resilience, shining brightly on national and international stages despite limited resources. By investing in sports infrastructure, fostering inclusive participation, and promoting athletic programs in educational institutions, Balochistan can unlock even greater potential. Celebrating and supporting these champions will not only bring glory to the province but also inspire future generations to aim for the stars.


 

Ali Tahir Saraf

NIL

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