By Fazal Khaliq

SWAT: Youth activists and sportsmen here have criticised the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government for not fulfilling its promises of providing sports facilities and playgrounds in all tehsils of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

They said that no new playground was established in any part of Swat and young sportsmen had to play either in fields, streets or on the banks of streams and rivers.

“We don’t have a playground in our village due to which majority of young men do not take part in sports activities.

“However, some cricket lovers have levelled a piece of land near a stream in our village where they play the game,” said Bahadar Ali, a resident of Kharerai Matta where for over 8000 households there is no playground.

Abid Ali, who has a passion for football, said he had to cover five kilometres distance to reach the playground of Afzal Khan Lala College and play the game with other sportsmen.

“Since childhood I love playing football but unfortunately we do not have a playground in our village due to which I have to travel five kilometers and play the game,” he told MP, adding that he wanted to play football professionally.

Fazal Banda is another far-flung area in Matta tehsil where the youth do not have a playground. “I love cricket but there is no playground in our village so we cannot play any sport. When the farmers cut their harvested crops we get opportunity to play cricket in the fields but it is just for short span of time as when the farmers sow another crop we stop playing there,” said Zeeshan Khan a young boy and resident of Fazal Banda in Matta tehsil.

Fazal Ali, a social activist in Swat, said unfortunately no new playground could be established in Swat during the PTI government so far.

Zafar Ali Kaka, KP Badminton Association president, said the government must provide sports facilities at the tehsil level to tap the talent at the grassroots level.

“Availability of grounds and proper trainings are essential for promotion of sports rather than a hugely-funded Under-23 Games or other shows,” he said.

KP Gymnastic Association secretary Rafiqullah said the provincial government should seriously work on provision of sports facilities at the local level.

When contacted, district sports officer, Swat, Kashif Farhan said the KP government had approved a plan for constructing playgrounds and sports facilities, including volleyball and basketball courts and cricket grounds, across the district.

“Establishment of volleyball and basketball courts, and cricket pitch at tehsil Kabal, Sakhra, Durushkhela and Arkot in Matta tehsil, badminton halls, at Kabal, Circuit house, Qambar and Sherpallam. Construction of cricket stadium at Kalam, establishment of gymnasium in Matta, indoor sports facility for women, establishment of Swat sports complex and installation of astro turf in hockey ground, Makanbagh have already been approved,” he said, adding that rehabilitation of Grassy ground Mingora and a climbing wall were also approved.