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Top five most popular sports played in Pakistan

Pakistan is a sports loving nation. However, this love is not limited to just one or two sports only. There are a few sports that are quite popular in Pakistan and time and again, we have shown the world that there is no dearth of talent. Many of these are played at both national and international level; however, due to lack of proper infrastructure and facilities, the talent which Pakistan can produce is not exploited to its full capacity.

Pakistan has a rich sporting history. Over the years, different sports in Pakistan have seen their golden days and some sports have had a decline in their popularity due to different reasons. Trends might have changed but one thing remains unchanged and that is the love of Pakistani nation for sports. Following is a list of top ten most popular sports in Pakistan:

Cricket

Although cricket is not our national sport, it remains the undisputed champion in terms of popularity. On the international level, Pakistan has had its ups and downs, but its fan following has remained fairly consistent. With the 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.

Sporting success: Winner of the 1992 Cricket World Cup and 2009 T20 World Cup

Hockey

The decline of hockey continues in Pakistan. Hockey is the national sport of a country which has given Pakistan three Olympics gold medals and 4 world cups. Several factors are contributing to the decreasing popularity of the sport which was once the most popular sport in Pakistan. The poor performance of the hockey federation and as a result hockey team over the last few years is one factor. Lack of proper infrastructure, lack of stardom and international appeal are also contributing to the decline of hockey. Unless something extraordinary happens, the trend is likely to continue.

Sporting success: Three gold medals at the Olympics in field hockey and hockey Champions Trophy winners – 1978, 1980, 1994

 

Squash

Squash is a popular sport that has a large following in Pakistan, with Pakistan dominating the sport for a period of time. Jahangir Khan who remained unbeaten in 555 consecutive squash matches holds world record and Jansher Khan are considered legends of the sport and have won several World Squash Championship and other tournaments. Combined they have won 14 world opens, making Pakistan the most decorated squash nation in the world. Pakistani players have won the Squash World Open 17 times, and British Open 12 times, the highest by any nation.

Football

The most popular sport of the world is still not the most popular sport in Pakistan but things are changing quickly. In almost all the urban centers of Pakistan, football has gained huge popularity over the last few years. It has become the dominant sport in many schools, colleges and universities. Over the years Pakistan football federation has continuously failed this beautiful game in Pakistan, but the international appeal and stardom of the game is so huge that football is still growing in Pakistan.

Snooker

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.

Apart from the sports mentioned above, following sports are being played in Pakistan as important features of the many large and colorful festivals that occur throughout the countryside.

  • Kabbadi/Wrestling
  • Polo
  • Horse-racing/riding
  • Tent-Pegging
  • Boxing
  • Scuba Diving
  • Trekking/Mountain climbing
  • Chess
  • Skiing
  • Paragliding
  • Volleyball
The writer is a Karachi based freelance columnist and is a banker by profession. He could be reached on Twitter @ReluctantAhsan

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