Sport in Pakistan

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sport in Pakistan

Field hockey and Polo are the national sports of Pakistan but cricket is the most popular game. Traditional games like Kabaddi and other well known games are also played. The Pakistan Sports Board created in 1962 by the Ministry of Education as a corporate body for the purposes of promoting and developing uniform standards of competition in sports in Pakistan comparable to the standards prevailing internationally, and regulating and controlling sports in Pakistan on a national basis. The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, now has control over the Pakistan Sports Board. The PSB controls all 39 sporting federations.

Over recent years there has been an increase in sporting activity in Pakistan, with Pakistani sportsmen and women participating at many national and international events. Also, more international tournaments now take place in Pakistan. The size of the teams Pakistan sends, and the number of events they participate in the Olympic and Commonwealth Games has increased since the turn of the century.

Popular sports in Pakistan

Cricket is the most popular sport in Pakistan


Cricket has a huge following and based on attendance figures at games, is the most popular sport in the country. Pakistan has produced many multi-talented players who have been among the best batsmen and bowlers in the world. Almost all districts and neighborhoods in Pakistan have a cricket team and people start playing from a young age. Pakistan has won a lot of international cricket events, including the World Cup in 1992, besides finishing as runners up in 1999 World Cup and 2007 World Twenty20. Pakistan's cricket teams take part in domestic competitions such as the ABN-AMRO Cup, the ABN-AMRO Patron's Trophy, ABN-AMRO Twenty-20 Cup, and the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. International test and one-day matches are played between the Pakistan national team and foreign opponents regularly. The Pakistan Cricket Board controls both the men’s and women’s game. Women’s cricket is also very popular, with Kiran Baluch holding the current record of the highest score in a women's test match with her 242. Notable cricket players from Pakistan include Wasim Akram, Javed Miandad, and Imran Khan.

Field hockey is the national sport of Pakistan

Field Hockey

The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) is the national governing body of field hockey in Pakistan. The Pakistan Hockey Federation Women Wing (PHFWW) is the official organization of women's field hockey in Pakistan. The Pakistan men's team has won three gold medals at the Olympics and lifted the Hockey World Cup four times. It has also won the most number of Asian gold medals and is the only Asian team to have won the prestigious Champions Trophy with three titles. It has been consistently ranked amongst the top teams in the world. Notable players include Sohail Abbas, Mohammed Saqlain and Waseem Ahmad.


Squash is another sport that has a large following in Pakistan, with Pakistan dominating the sport for a period of time. Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan are considered legends of the sport and have won several World Squash Championships and other tournaments. Pakistani players have won the squash World Open 17 times, and British open 12 times, the highest by any nation. Carla Khan, one of Pakistan's most successful sportswomen, is one of a number of men and women who represent Pakistan. The Pakistan Squash Federation is the governing body of the sport in the country. The Pakistan Open tournament is one of the premier events of the sport in the country. Every province of the country holds its own men's and women's championships. Some other notable players from Pakistan include Hashim Khan, Torsam Khan,Mohibullah Khan jr andQamar Zaman.


Polo, a traditional sport played very widely

Polo, is one of the national sports, which is believed to have originated in Central Asia, and continues to be an important sport there with several large annual competitions. The Shandur Polo Tournament, played at the world's highest pologround every June, is one of the biggest tourist draws to Chitral and Gilgit in Northern Pakistan. The competition was created in the 1920s to promote integration between the various tribes and the British rulers[2]. The Shandur Pass was picked as the location because, at 11,000ft above sea level, it was seen as a ridge between heaven and hell. Key tournaments of the season are the Uprising Day tournament in early November in Gilgit, or the Pakistan Independence Day tournament in Skardu, early August. The Pakistan Polo Association (PPA) organise the sport, and the national side takes part in the Polo World Cup. Polo is played professionally with a number of Argentine players playing in Pakistan. Notable players include Murad Ismail, Raja Sami Ullah, and Hissam Ali Haider.


Football has always been the so-called poor man's sport but is really popular as a means of entertainment and activity for all age groups. Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) is the official organization in Pakistan. Football (soccer) is played mostly on a local level, primarily in Balochistan. These areas provide most of the players on the national team. Pakistan Football Federation Women Organizing Committee (PFFWOC) is responsible for women's football in Pakistan. In 2004, the Pakistan Premier League was established and is the first division of Pakistani football. The Pakistan National Football Challenge Cup is the national "knockout" cup competition in Pakistani football, run by the Pakistan Football Federation. Notable players include Muhammad Essa, Zeshan Rehman and Haroon Yousaf.

Other sports

Many other sports are played in Pakistan, these include:


Athletics Federation of Pakistan (AFP) organizes athletic tournaments in Pakistan. Pakistani athletes compete in various athletic events. Some Pakistani Athletes have excelled in various events in the distant past including some like Ghulam Raziq, Mubarak Shah, John Permal, Muhammad Talib, Abid Hussain, Arshad Saleem, Ali Kamani and Nawaz and Muhammad Younis are some of the athletes who got prominence at either Asian or International levels, or both, winning Golds for Pakistan.[3] Pakistani female athletes have also represented Pakistan at international level, such as Shabana Akhtar, who was the first Pakistani female athlete to participate at the Olympics. International events such as the Lahore Marathon take place in the country.

Australian Rules football

Aussie Rules was established in Pakistan in 2006. The governing body is the AFL Pakistan. There are currently six football teams in Pakistan, all based in the Swat Valley around an educational institution.

The Pakistani national side are known as the Dragoons.


The Pakistan Badminton Federation, formed in 1953, organises the sport in Pakistan. Men's players such as Irshad Ahmad and Saeed Malik, and Women's players like Elsie Hunt and Nighat Sultana, have won a number of tournaments. Pakistan's golden era was between the 50's and 70's.


Pakistan Baseball Federation organizes baseball leagues and tournaments in Pakistan. In 2006, the Pakistan Baseball Federation hosted 7th Asia Baseball Championship.


Basketball is growing by the day in Pakistan. Teenagers in the country have adopted the game nationwide and it is also being watched on TV accessed through satellite.

The Pakistan Amateur Basketball Federation run the game in the country, and have been members of FIBA since 1958. Six teams play in the Pakistan first division. National Women Basketball Championship is the Women's Basketball tournament.

Billiards & Snooker

Snooker is one the rising sports in Pakistan., and is has been taken up by many people. There has been success at International level: Mohammed Yousuf who was the 1994 IBSF World Snooker Champion and the 2006 IBSF World Masters Champion; and Shokat Ali the Pakistan number 1 and Asian Games Gold medallist, to name a few. The Pakistan Billiards Snooker Association (PBSA) was formed in 1958, and is the organisation that runs the game in the nation.


Pakistan Boxing Federation (PBF) organises boxing matches in Pakistan. The Pakistan Amateur Boxing Federation (PABF) organises amateur matches.

Pakistan has seen success at Amateur level boxing, despite lack of necessary equipment and facilities. They have won medals and the Olympic and Commonwealth Games, such as Quetta born Haider Ali who won Gold at the 2002 Commonwealth Games at Featherweight, and went on to become a professional boxer. Umar Khan is the member of Pakistan Boxing Federation and also the member of Pakistan under 19 team he has won different titles against malaysians and Philipians. And currently the captain of Under 19 team.


Contract Bridge was introduced in Pakistan in the 1950s. It was generally played by army officers, business executives and people of the elite group. Duplicate bridge, which is better known as competitive bridge, was first introduced in Pakistan by Khaja Azeemuddin, a civil engineer, who started duplicate bridge after forming the 57-Club at the Nazimabad Club in Karachi. Quickly the game spread, until most social clubs in Karachi and Lahore had reserved spaces for contract bridge and began to hold duplicate bridge tournaments.

The Pakistan Bridge Federation (PBF), founded in 1972, is the national governing body for all competitive bridge tournaments and development in Pakistan. It became the founding member of the Bridge Federation of Africa, Asia & the Middle East (BFAAME) in 1981, which initially boasted of 22 member countries, until a separate zone was created for Africa. It is currently known as the Bridge Federation of Asia & the Middle East, and is represented as Zone 4 of the World Bridge Federation.

Zia Mahmood is Pakistan's best player, with a number of titles.


In Pakistan, chess is played throughout the country, mostly in Moghul style which is slightly different from the international style. But the Chess Federation of Pakistan (CFP) organises its tournaments in international style and according to the established rules.

The FIDE has awarded the International Master's title to Shahzad Mirza and Mahmood Lodhi.


Pakistan Cycling Federation is the governing body of this sport in Pakistan. The Tour de Pakistan International Cycling Race starts from Karachi and ends in Peshawar, with about 150 domestic and international cyclists taking part every year. This race is among the largest of such events in Asia, covering a distance of 1,648 km in eleven stages with four days of rest en route[4]. Teams from (WAPDA) Pakistan Army Pakistan Railways and Sui Southern Gas Company, along with teams of the four provinces regularly take part in domestic and international cycling tournaments. Women's cycling also takes place in the country. Other events are the Tour of Islamabad and the MTB Tour Of The Himalayas.


Equestrianism had traditionally been limited to the upper-echelon of Pakistani society up until the end of the 20th century. Private sponsorship and government funding for the sport has increased dramatically. [5]Pakistan Eventing began in 2005 and in partnership with the Equestrian Federation of Pakistan (EFP) and aims to qualify for the 2008 Summer Olympics as Pakistan's first Olympic equestrian entry.


The Pakistan Gymnastics Federation has been affiliated with the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) since 1958. Pakistan sends individuals and teams to international events such as the Olympics.


The Pakistan Golf Federation (PGF) run Golf in Pakistan. Karachi Golf Club is one of the oldest in the country and it is where the Pakistan Open takes place.

The Pakistan Open was founded in 1967 and became an Asian Tour event in 2006. Chris Rodgers won the Pakistan Open in 2006. The 2007 event was held in January and had an increased prize money purse of $330,000 US.

Taimur Hussain has been Pakistan's most successful golfer, as he won the 1998 Myanmar Open, becoming the first Pakistani to win on the Asian Tour.


Handball was first played in 1984 in an exhibition event, and was taken up by the Pakistan Olympic Association. The Pakistan Amateur Handball Federation is a member of the Asia Handball Federation.


Pakistan has many Karate clubs, and tournaments are routinely held. Recently, there has been a trend of teaching Karate in schools as a healthy activity. The likes of Gulam Ali and Saadi Abbas have picked up Gold at the SAF Games.

Motor Sport

The Motorsport Association of Pakistan (MAP) is a member of the Federation Internationale de L'Automobile FIA. The Pakistan National Karting Championship was the first motor racing curcit competition in Pakistan, and is used to develop rookie drivers. The Freedom Rally is a yearly off-road race which takes place during the Independence celebrations.

Nur B. Ali was the first Pakistani Racing driver and Co-founded the MAP. He drives in the ARCA RE/MAX Series and is a former two-time Southwest Formula Mazda Regional Series champion. Ali was also the driver of the A1GP Team Pakistan in 2006. Syed Ovais Naqvi is the first local and homegrown professional Pakistani Racecar Driver and he is also the first Pakistani to acquire the International B Racing license, he also co-founded the MAP and is the General Secretary of the body. Ovais was also responsible for putting together the Pakistan National Karting Championship. Omer Younas is currently racing in the Formula BMW Pacific and Adnan Sarwar races in Formula Rolon. In 2005 the A1 Team Pakistan was run by Adam Langley-Khan, Khan returned to Team Pakistan for the 2007/08 season and remains the Team Pakistan driver. He also drives in the Euroseries 3000.


With the greatest concentration of the highest peaks of the world many of them very challenging climbs, Pakistan is a prime location for skilled Mountain climbers. 5 peaks are over 8,000 meters. The Alpine Club of Pakistan (ACP) founded in 1974, is the national mountaineering and climbing federation. Nazir Sabir is Pakistan’s most experienced mountaineer.


Karachi and Lahore are the major centres of rowing. The Pakistan Rowing Federation was a founding member of the Asian Rowing Federation. Although Pakistani rowers take part in events, it is considered a minority sport. Rowers like Ali Hassan & Maqbool Ali and Zohaib Zia Hashmi & Muhammad Asad Khan have won medals at international events.

Rugby Union

Rugby team of Karachi, in 1934

The Pakistan Rugby Union was formally established in 2000 and gained memberships with the Asian Rugby Football Union in 2000. In 2003, Pakistan fielded a national team for the first time, participating in the Provincial Tournament in Sri Lanka. In Nov of 2004, it participated in the 19th Asian championship in Hong Kong. Pakistan rugby union then became an associate member of the IRB (International Rugby Board).

There are three major clubs in Pakistan; Islamabad Rugby Football Club (IRFC) also known as the "JINNS", Lahore Rugby Football Club (LRFC), and Karachi Rugby Football Club (KRFC).

The latest land mark for Pakistan rugby is that universities like Lahore University of Management and Sciences (LUMS) and Bahria University Islamabad have formed teams as well.


Shooting is a sport Pakistan frequently takes part in. Irshad Ali with one silver and two bronzes in the Commonwealth Games being one of the most successful at international level. Other prominent shooters in skeet shooting include Amin Karamat, Khurram Inam and Sultan Mehmood.

Another rising star of the international shooting community, Reza Munir, is a Lahore based skeet shooter and competes regularly on the national and international level. He has won the Gold medal both in the National Championships and the National Games in 2007[4]. In addition to that he has participated in a number of international competitions where he has shown his talent. Reza Munir beat his all pervious records in the European Grand Prix in Maribor, Slovenia in July 2008. This contest saw the best of Reza where he shone by securing 4th position with a score of 142 out of 150. Here Reza raised the Pakistani flag among the best shooters around as World Champions like Hvalacek Leos (Czech Republic) George Achilleos (Cyprus), and Tore Brovold (Norway) were the ones on first, second and third slots respectively.


The Ski Federation of Pakistan, created in 1990, run the sport. Despite being a country with many mountains, the sport has never taken off until the late 90's. Up until then, it was only done by the Pakistan Army. Now there have been facilities put in place so that the sport can be played, and the Ski Federation of Pakistan now sends out teams to international tournaments.


Up until recently, swimming struggled as a sport in Pakistan. But there has been a surge in interest, particularly with Rubab Raza. She was the youngest Olympic Pakistani competitor in Pakistan's history, aged 13 at the 2004 Olympics.


WTF taekwondo started in Pakistan during the 70's when some Korean taekwondo masters visited here and established a handful of clubs. Over the years it has spread all over the country, albeit slowly for most part. However, it seems to have enjoyed more growth than any other sport (arguably), during the last ten years.

It is run by the Pakistan Taekwondo Federation.

Table Tennis

The Pakistan Table Tennis Federation runs the sport in the country. Arif Khan, was ranked in the Top 60 in the late 80's, and was one of Pakistan's best players. Recently, the sport has been revitalised, with Pakistan trying to host international tournaments.

Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi at the US Open


Tennis is also very popular and Pakistanis compete in various international events. The Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) organise the game in the country.

Khawaja Saeed Hai was the first Pakistani to reach a Grand Slam, playing at Wimbledon, the US Open, and at the French Open where he made it to the third round. Haroon Rahim was the most successful, a winner of a number of ATP Singles and Doubles titles.

The Pakistan Davis Cup team have previously reached the world group play-offs, with the help of Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi, currently Pakistan's number one, and Aqeel Khan, the number two.


Volleyball is popular in the Pakistan Armed Forces. Inter-services games are played regularly, and most players of the Pakistani volleyball team are from the armed forces. This game is also gaining popularity among private school students in Karachi.


The Pakistan Amateur Weightlifting Federation was formed in 1953. Pakistan has picked up a number of medals over the years in weightlifting, Shuja-Ud-Din Malik won Gold in the Men's 85 kg Combined at the 2006 Commonwealth Games.


Wresting has always been a popular sport in Pakistan, with regular tournaments played locally. It has seen Pakistan win medals at international games, such as Muhammad Akhtar, a three time Gold medallist in the Commonwealth Games, and Muhammad Bashir's bronze in the 1960 Olympic Games. usman majeed and M.umar of pakistan participated in Senior men "Beach Wrestling" at Camyuva Beach, Anatolia Turkey(sep.2007). Usman majeed won silver medal in 85kg category on 8th september 2007.


Byram Dinshawji Avari represented Pakistan at the 1978 Asian Games in Bangkok and again at the 1982 Asian Games in New Delhi. He also won a silver medal at the Enterprise World Championship held in Canada in 1978.