Army footballers dominates National Games: looks fourth gold in a row

Lahore, 8 December : Pakistan Army will act as hot contender when Five-day Football event of 31st National Games  will be held at Islamabad’s Jinnah Stadium from 25-29 December 2010. The soldiers will attempt to make it fourth in a row, having completed triumphs of gold in soccer of National Games three yeas ago, overwhelming host Sindh in final of 30th National Games Fooball Tournament at Karachi’s Peoples Sports Complex. They earlier won the gold in 2001 Games at Lahore and 2004 Games. Karachi’s gold was overall their fifth gold, having won top slot on 1995 and 1997.

Football was excluded from the original list of disciplines to feature in the 31st edition of the Games along with cycling and hockey on the basis of security fears. But after weeks of deliberation and altercation between the Pakistan Olympic Association and the Pakistan Football Federation, through it’s dynamic President Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat, football made its way back into the National Games on 5 December night.

The 16th Asian Games gold medallist Aamir Atlas will lit the 31st National Games torch, after receiving it from other legendary Olympians Pakistan would be held in Peshawar from December 25-31 under Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Olympic Association.

The  Games opened at Peshawar amid colour and pageantry on 25 December in the backdrop of country’s declining standard among all Olympic sports as well as cricket.

Over three thousand athletes from across the country including Azad Jammu and Kashmir, assisted by a good number of technical officials, assembled together to show true sportsmanship. National Games reflect the overall standard of country’s sports. The performance of athletes during the next couple of days will be true indicator how seriously they have trained for the event.

With the inclusion of Football, Hockey and Wushu, a total of 21 men games and seven women games would be played. The football event, having host KP, Railways, WAPDA and three services teams, would be played at Islamabad along with other two events – shooting and women swimming. The biennial Games are held in the four provinces on rotation. The last occasion was at Karachi in April 2007. It will be sixth Games on Khyber Pakhtunkhwa after 1958, 1974, 1982, 1990 and 1998 at Peshawar that saw change of name by NA on 8 April this year. The same city saw the debut of football in 1982 with PAF winning the gold.

Popular as the biggest sports spectacle of the country –  the 31st National Games – opens at Bara Road’s Qayyum Sports Complex  with three thousand men and women athletes vying for honours. Peshawarities  have opened their arms to welcome the participants from all nook and corner of the country as the games returned to Peshawar after over a decade. It was few months after country’s coming into being when Father of the Nation, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, set the ball rolling by inaugurating the first National Games at Karachi in 1948.

Pakistan Army, winners of prestigious Quaid-i-Azam Trophy for a staggering 23 times, including 15 in a row, are likely to maintain winning streak despite the fact that Wapda have challenged their supremacy in recent times. All the participating units have assured their enthusiastic participation in the national games while POA has allowed honorary participation to FATA in the Games and its contingent will take part in the march past besides Football. The occasion provides an opportunity for athletes of eleven affiliated units of POA – Pakistan Army, Pakistan WAPDA,Pakistan Navy, Pakistan Air Force, Pakistan Railways,Pakistan Police, Higher Education Commission (HEC), Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and . Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to prove their mettle by competing against each other.

Gold Medallist of National Games 1982-2010

1982-Peshawar: Pakistan Air Force

1986-Quetta: Balochistan

1990-Nowshera:  Punjab

1992-Lahore: Pakistan WAPDA

1995-Quetta: Pakistan Army

1997-Karachi: Pakistan Army

1998-Peshawar: Punjab

2001-Lahore: PakistanArmy

2004-Quetta: Pakistan Army

2007-Karachi: Pakistan Army

2010-Peshawar: ???