The Punjab government announced that it will be sporting festivals across the province universities to find athletes who will go on to make Pakistan proud in international events.
Punjab Higher Education Minister Raja Humayun has announced that sporting festivals will be held throughout the year. The provincial government will be rewarding these athletic students with scholarships and cash prizes.
"It is a university sports league system in which 59 public and private institutes from the province have been divided into six leagues," he said while speaking to SAMAA TV on its programme Naya Din. "They will participate in 10 sports from the start of their academic calendar. An estimated 6,000 athletes from different varsities will be participating and a total of 1,980 tournaments will take place. This will make up a sporting calendar and it will keep taking place throughout the year."
He said that the step will help in the talent hunt. "Those countries which perform well in sports, especially in the Olympics, their grooming takes place at a university level. We have started it at this level and will take it to college level next year."
The provincial minister said that this will be the project's second year running. He claimed that only cricket was used in the pilot edition due to budget constraints but now they have been allocated large sum of Rs30 million for the initiative. "It also includes Rs20 million for a scholarship programme and will also focus on the well being, physical and mental training along with diet of the sports stars. The universities will take care of that and the money will be allocated to them."
Humayun added that the provincial government wants it to be a permanent part of the province's university culture. "Those who are familiar with the American educational system, know their institutes earn a lot which is reinvested eventually in their students. This develops spirit and attachment for their varsity and its mascots. Similarly, every institute here has a mascot and has come up with a name. We want it to be a permanent feature of our academic system."
He said that sporting galas and festivals should continue to take place without any breaks or delays. "It is a continuous process and we are trying our best to find such talent which make the nation proud."
He said that the main focus will be on athletics, which also includes swimming. "These two events kick off on February 1, which will take place for around the next five days. Then we will move onto other sports such as field hockey, football, badminton, table tennis and squash. You call it. Any game played on university level which is offered has been made a part of it."
The minister added that there will be a whole different league for women are enrolled in all-women universities while the same protocol will be followed for co-ed institutes.