Pakistan is a nation that loves sports. This love for sports isn’t limited to just one or two sports, however. There are quite a few sports that are quite popular in Pakistan and time and again, we have shown the world just how talented we are. Many of these are played at both national and international level; however, due to a lack of proper infrastructure and facilities, the talent which Pakistan can produce is not exploited to its full capacity.
Pakistan is full of cricket fans to such an extreme extent that it is hard to believe that it is not our national sport. It is played extensively on just about every level. You can see children and adults likewise playing cricket in the streets, in public parks, cricket academies, schools, universities, and national stadiums. Several national championships are organized everywhere to promote talent and the popularity of the sport. On an international level, Pakistan has had its ups and downs, but its fan following has remained fairly consistent. With the recent launch of the Pakistan Super League (PSL), Pakistanis have become hooked to cricket all over again. Unfortunately, there has been next to no international cricket in the country due to security reasons, but lately, things seemed to be looking up again and a handful of matches have been played in the country. Hopefully, this trend will continue in the future too. Noteworthy Pakistan cricket players include Shahid Afridi, Misbah ul Haq, Javaid Miandad, Wasim Akram, Saqlain Mushtaq, Zaheer Abbas, and the Little Master Muhammad Hanif.
Football is by far the most popular sport in the world, but this popularity hasn’t reached Pakistan at the same extent. Lately, it has started to become more popular with more and more schools and universities jumping on the football bandwagon. But, apart from school and street level, there aren’t many football academies in the country and the football federation hasn’t been able to execute as well as one could hope for. The future looks promising though as is evident from some of the football related statistics recently. In 2016, football became the second most played and watched sport in Pakistan.
The numerous snooker clubs in the country are a true testament to the fact that it is one of the most popular sports in Pakistan. However, there aren’t many formal training programs or any centers to promote the development of this sport in the country. Most of the players though only play snooker as a hobby and not on a professional level. On an international level too, Pakistan’s involvement is fairly limited. Despite that, there are a few noteworthy snooker players in the country including Muhammad Asif who won the ISBF World Snooker Championship.
Hockey is the national sport of Pakistan and as such, it is not a surprise that it is one of the most popular sports in the country. Over the years, Pakistan has earned 3 gold medals for hockey in Olympics and has bagged the Hockey World Cup title 4 times. However, as more and more people are turning towards other sports, the popularity of hockey has continued to go down. Another reason for this is the lack of proper infrastructure and supervision of the country’s hockey federation. This lack of funds allocation to the sport has led to a steady decline in the hockey players’ and the national team’s performance. We are hopeful that the hockey board will take some time to recollect and then come up with an appropriate action plan to revive the popularity of the sport in Pakistan.
Badminton is another popular sport in Pakistan. The main reason behind this popularity is the fact that it is a low budget sport. It doesn’t require too many facilities, equipment or players. The sport is highly popular in various educational institutes. Moreover, it is also the only sport in Pakistan which is more popular among females as compared to males. However, most of the Pakistanis only play badminton as a hobby and not professionally. This is why Pakistan’s presence in badminton at an international level is fairly non-existent.
Boxing is now becoming more and more popular in Pakistan and Pakistani boxers have been performing quite well in both local and international level events and championships. The popularity of boxing can be largely attributed to the famous boxing player, Amir Khan. Although he does not represent Pakistan, he is originally from Pakistan and as such often visits the country.
Pakistan has plenty of raw talent and admiration for sports. However, due to lack of funds, proper supervision and administration, and lack of prioritization, this talent is hardly exploited. We are hopeful that the respective boards of these sports will reconsider their current strategies and attempt to revive the sports in Pakistan.