The four-man Pakistan badminton team, which has a standard size of eight, has made it to Birmingham against all odds.
The players, including Olympian Mahur Shahzad, should not have even been here.
The Pakistan Sports Board dropped badminton from its Commonwealth Games contingent earlier this month due to paucity of funds, dashing their hopes and getting them a last-minute sponsor in the country’s Olympic body.
Even with government support non-existent and private players only supporting cricket, Shehzad says being a player in his country is tough, even though awareness about the sport of racketeering has increased over the years .
The 26-year-old Shahzad from Karachi, who became the first Pakistan badminton player to feature in the Olympics last year, is primarily a singles specialist but had to play doubles in a one-sided encounter against a formidable India on Friday. For small team sizes.
The same was the case with his female double partner Ghazala Siddiqui, who also had to pair in the mixed doubles event. The men’s team members are Murad Ali and Irfan Saeed Bhatti.
“The other teams have eight players. Here, four of us have to play all the games. I am a singles player, but had to play doubles and mixed doubles as well. It becomes difficult to focus on one,” Shehzad told PTI. ” 0-5 loss to India.
Shehzad and his couple partner Siddiqui both have government jobs, but that salary is not enough to meet their needs. Hailing from a business family, Shahzad has a badminton passion, while Siddiqui doubles down on his government job as a sports teacher to support his family, which includes five siblings.
Shehzad’s long-term goal is to make it to the 2024 Paris Olympics but despite being around for a long time, she feels stuck with regards to her career.
He said, “Training in a country like Pakistan is very difficult. You have to take care of yourself, there are no good coaches, you have to do fitness, gym yourself. There is no proper training center at home.
“No player comes to Pakistan and we don’t play that much in international events. So the level is stuck. I myself feel that my game is stuck and I need to train abroad to improve.”
Siddiqui, on the other hand, started playing only five years back and it is a real honor for him to just be part of the national team. The 28-year-old, who earns around 13,000 Indian rupees from her government job, cannot devote all her energy to the game due to her dual duties.
Siddiqui from Lahore said with a smile, “Cricket is the only sport that gets support. I have to do two jobs because one is not enough to run a family. I am the eldest of five siblings, so there is responsibility. ” ,
On Friday, the more experienced Shehzad faced Indian superstar PV Sindhu, who has played against Saina Nehwal in the past. However, her favorite player is Tai Tzu-ying of Chinese Taipei.
Shehzad said, “Sindhu came to me after the game to shake hands, which was a nice gesture. Compared to Saina, Sindhu looks a lot more deceptive. Saina was a lot more aggressive when I played against her.”
Siddiqui hasn’t spoken to Indian players yet, but has an Indian friend since his university days in 2017.
“During the World University Games in 2017, I became friends with an Indian. We spent a lot of time together and he took care of me when I got unwell. I will never forget that.
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