ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s cyclists may not have had a state-of-the-art training facility in the past, but the capital may soon to receive a world-class velodrome; an indoor arena for track cycling.
Speaking at the Pakistan Sports Complex on Tuesday, Inter Provincial Coordination Minister Riaz Hussain Pirzada said his ministry was considering the development of a modern cycling velodrome in the city.
“We have a cycling velodrome in Lahore and want to have another similar arena in Islamabad. I will send a summary soon to the Prime Minister for his approval,” said Pirzada while inaugurating the two-day Islamabad-Galiyat National Cycling Race.
Read: Sprint to the finish: TCKP organises gruelling cycle race
“I believe we should have a cycling velodrome in the capital so that our youth can have greater opportunities to excel in this sport,” he said.
Pirzada said sports including cycling remained a neglected field in the country.
He said certain so-called proponents of religious thoughts and democracy handed guns to youth in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), adding that, “Had they given cycles to the youth of that province instead of guns, the situation would have been better today.”
The minister lauded Pakistan Cycling Federation (PCF) for holding the race saying that such activities promoted the soft image of the country.
“The participants of this cycling race are a source of inspiration for other youth,” he added.
The inauguration ceremony was attended by Amjad Afridi, advisor to chief minister K-P on sports, Pakistan Sports Board Director-General Akhtar Nawaz Ganjera and PCF Secretary Syed Azhar Ali Shah.
Shah said the federation was doing its best to develop cycling in the country but added that a scarcity of funds was a hurdle in the sport’s promotion.
“Several participants in even today’s race do not have standard cycles,” he said, while seeking the government’s help.
“I am not asking for funds. We need cycles and other facilities for these young athletes. Most of our cyclists come from poor and middle class families and they cannot afford to buy cycles for themselves, as a cycle for such a race costs between Rs400,000 and Rs450,000,” he added.
Tour de Galiyat
Later, the Islamabad-Galiyat National Cycling Race commenced from the sports complex towards its destination of Nathiagali in Galiyat via Havelian and Abbottabad.
As many as 78 cyclists from all over the country are taking part in the Tour de Galiyat National Cycling Race, jointly organised by PCF, K-P Cycling Association and Tourism Corporation K-P.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 14th, 2015.