Badminton Life

Pakistan Hoping to Groom Young Stars With Annual Tournament

In a land where cricket rules, Pakistan's badminton authorities are doing their best to help their few players compete for glory.

One such tournament is the Ameer Abdullah Khan Rokhri Ranking event, which is being held in the city of Lahore. The 11th edition of the tournament is expected to attract more than 200 men and women, who rarely get a chance to play in international events but will relish the chance to compete against each other.

According to local media, both the defending champions in the men's and women's singles have signed up. Omar Zeeshan won the men's title last year while Sara Khan topped the ladies event.

In the team categories, Pakistan WAPDA are the reigning champions while National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) will be trying to regain their women's title.

Cash prizes worth 130,000 rupees, a rarity in a Pakistan sport that does not involve cricket, are being handed out to the top performers, thanks to contributions from sponsors Total Atlas Lubricants.

Players from four provinces as well as NBP, WAPDA, New Khan, Pakistan International Airlines, Higher Education Commission, Karachi Port Trust, Pakistan Railways, Pakistan Army, Islamabad and a joint team from Azad Jammu and Kashmir are taking part in the week-long competition.

Aamir Hayat Khan Rokhri, the Pakistan Badminton Association secretary general, said he hopes this tournament can help to revitalise interest in the sport from a skeptical public.

"For the past many years we are endeavouring to revive badminton and we have seen visible improvement in the ranking of our players who are regularly taking part in the international meets," he said.

The main aim of the tournament is to identify young players who can be groomed to international standards.

Zeeshan is the third best player in Pakistan with a world ranking of 163. The highest ranked Pakistan player in the Badminton World Federation world rankings is Wajid Ali, who is 127 in the world.

Then comes Qamar Ahsan, who is only two places ahead of Zeeshan. Pakistan have a total of seven players who have acquired world rankings with Muhammad Waqas Ahmad their lowest-ranked player at 389.

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