KARACHI: SPORTS CAPITAL OF PAKISTAN
July 11 - 17, 2011
The world at large and the people of Pakistan are aware that the southern coastal city of Karachi ranks amongst worlds top twenty biggest metropolis. The city which once was the capital of Pakistan is the commercial engine of the country and contributes biggest share in national revenue generation.
But what most of them and including Karachiites do not know that Karachi is also the biggest sports city of the country.
It has unlimited sports facilities scattered across the metropolis. From deep East to deep West and from deep North to deep South there are a number of sports facilities which are not fully utilized for various reasons including poor maintenance.
Interesting to note is that when Pakistan emerged as new nation in 1947 and Karachi was made its capital the city had only a few sports facilities serving footballers, hockey players and cricketers. There was famous Karachi Goan Association ground on Bunder Road which hosted football and hockey matches and some times weekend cricket matches were also played there.
There was just one swimming pool at Karachi Parsi institute. All hockey activities was held on the murram ground of the YMCA which also had two cemented tennis courts which organized national events. YMCA was also the centre of table tennis and basketball. However, clubs like Karachi Gymkhana also had tennis facility and cricket facility where English teams were entertained.
Jahangir Park located in the heart of the old city was the centre of all cricket facilities. Due to neglect and encroachment it was abandoned as cricket ground.
Muslim Gymkhana had a cricket ground and a snooker hall where all the national and international activities were held. Hindu Gymkhana adjacent to Muslim Gymkhana was taken over by Pakistan Police and police quarters were constructed on its land. Fortunately, the main building of Hindu Gymkhana escaped being encroached miraculously.
The biggest open space in the city called Polo Ground was used for polo matches before independence, hockey, football and other recreational activities were held there. On this venerated ground Quaide Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah opened Pakistan's first national Games in 1948.
Football was main sport of the city. People living close to Karachi Port Trust or in the poor neighborhood of Lyari played the game passionately. There was no proper football ground except on KPT land near the port where sailors of the visiting ships would play matches against local teams. A good number of players played the game. Some of them became known outside the city and played in Bombay.
Hockey had special importance in the city. Goanese community kept hockey live. YMCA and St. Patrick's school kept the hockey flag flying. St Patrick's school had the honor of defeating on their own ground great Bhopal Wanderers when the team came here in 1944.
There was one small golf course close to the cantonment railways station. The course was given a bigger land where they created Karachi Golf Club located inside PNS Karsaz. There was a race course near Cantonment station. In mid seventies after horse racing was banned by Z.A. Bhutto government, there was no horse racing but in eighties a new land was allotted to Karachi race course in Gulistan-e-Jauhar where a new club was launched.
Before independence like any small city Karachi had few sports facilities but after independence there was slow explosion of sports and creation of sports facilities.
The first sports facility that came up was National cricket stadium which was specially built to host India on return test visit in 1954-1955. Located some distance away from the populated areas, the stadium was carved out of chalk hillock. General and VIP stands were not covered but the VIP stand were covered with shamianas.
This was the first international level facility that also hosted first test match on February 25 1955 against India. Unexpected rains curtailed the match.
Later in eighties when Pakistan cohosted the world cricket cup with India the old structure was removed and a new stadium built. The stadium was again modernized for second world cup that the subcontinent hosted.
After the national capital was shifted from Karachi to Islamabad somewhere around 1958 it was thought that Karachi would lose its charm as sports centre. However, contrary to the expectations sports infrastructure and facilities continued to grow in Karachi.
With the influx in 1947 onwards of population from those parts of India where sports was popular to Karachi and Pakistan a large number of talented sportspersons arrived in the country.
Cricketers, hockey players, tennis players and wrestlers all opted for the new country and there was a sudden upsurge of sports patrons in Karachi.
Karachi which in 1947 had negligibly barest minimum sports facilities, in 64 years time had became one of the biggest sports city of the country.
Former prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan had ordered the construction of the stadium after Pakistan got the Test status and India accepted to play in Pakistan. Though the late former minister could not live to see the completion of the project yet it was completed in record six months time.
Both the government and private companies and rich individuals played in adding new facilities. KMC made the biggest contribution when it turned one of his small ground the KMC football ground located close to Civil Hospital into a fine playing facilities.
It remained centre of all national activities. But, the biggest contribution to football came from former prime minister Benazir Bhutto who as a just reward to the poor neighborhood of Lyari ordered the construction of Peoples Football Stadium on Mauripur Road. This is first fully international facility with floodlights. The venue had hosted a number of international events including SAF football championship. The football stadium also has the biggest indoor gymnasium where even an international tennis competition could be held on Australian imported wooden floor and if a synthetic overlay could be placed over the surface it could become an international surface.
There are a number of football grounds in Lyari and distant places like Malir and Ibrahim Hyderi. Baloch Muhammeden football stadium at Sharffi Goth is one of the best in the suburban areas. KPT which had always patronized football and ran a strong football team for over half a century upgraded its football stadium into an international facility.
The KMC in mid sixties utilized a barren strip of land running along Kashmir Road to set up a sports complex. It has country's first tennis complex and an international level swimming pool the only one in public sector. KMC tennis complex has country's first tennis stadium where a Davis Cup fixture against Malaysia was played. Players like Arther Ashe, Haroon Rahim, Saeed Meer and Illie Nastese have played at the stadium.
Tennis facilities are also available at Muslim Gymkhana, Karachi Gymkhana, Karachi Club, Karachi and NED Engineering University, DHA Club and new clubs which have come up in DHA Phase VII.
Karachi also has the honor of getting an exclusive hockey stadium with Astro turf surface in 1979 when the then president of the PHF Air Marshal Nur Khan upgraded the Hockey Club of Pakistan located opposite Jinnah Hospital to host the second PIA Champions Trophy in 1980.
When the martial law government in 1980 decided to allot big plots of land inside the city to construct sports facilities, Pakistan customs, NBP and UBL were the two institutions which applied and got the land allotted. Pakistan keeping high its tradition of promoting hockey constructed a hockey complex on the allotted ground in Federal B. Area. It laid down an astro turf and created a seating capacity for five thousand spectators.
UBL used the land allotted to it for creating a first class cricket ground and hockey stadium with astro turf playing surface. It also has tennis courts. NBP was allotted a plot in Clifton opposite the Mazar of Abdullah Shah ghazi where it had constructed an international level cricket ground with turf wicket and a gymnasium. PIA created world's first squash complex on Kashmir Road and took over the maintenance of Hockey Club of Pakistan. The squash complex unfortunately has been demolished none other than former world champion Jahangir Khan who had played there as youngster to make room for a sports club. Thus a heritage building was destroyed as the country looked away.
In 1947 only two squash faculties existed in Karachi. One was Karachi Gymkhana courts and the other was at Navy's squash courts where Jahangir Khan got first lessons in squash from his legendry father Roshan Khan.
Navy at Fleet Club has created a squash complex with one championship court and four other courts. Defence Club in DHA phase VII has three side glass court which has hosted world events. Sindh rangers also has a good squash court at its sports complex in North Nazimabad. Private clubs also have squash courts. Karachi has enough water areas where water sports like yachting and rowing are held. National Sailing Club owned by Pakistan Navy has facilities for yachting. Rowing is held on China creek behind Beach Luxury hotel.
There are Karachi Boat Club and a Karachi Sailing Club. Pakistan Navy has constructed a multipurpose sports complex inside PNS Karsaz. It has an international class rifle shooting range second in the country, a international size swimming pool, a football ground and Karachi Golf Course which is a private club but as it is located on Navy property Pakistan Navy has literally taken over the course.
DHA also has golf course. Arabian Sea and Country Club located inside Pakistan Steel Mills have one of the best golfing facility in Pakistan and a floodlit cricket ground which has been designed on Oxford University ground. The club has recently started skeet shooting facility.
Following is the list of venues of various sports in the city.
Karachi Golf Course at PNS Karsaz. (international)
DHA Golf Course DHA Phase VII (International)
Arabian Sea Country Club
Pakistan Steel Mills (international)
PAF Link course PAF Orange Creek
Pakistan Navy eight hole Golf course at Naval Colony Hawks
Bay Acacia Golf Club under construction behind Jinnah
Hockey Club of Pakistan with astro turf behind Commander
Karachi office (international) Pakistan Steel Town Hockey ground with astro turf.
UBL hockey stadium with plastic surface Federal B. Area on Rashid Minhas Road.
Pakistan Customs hockey complex with plastic surface Federal B. Area on Rashid Minhas Road.
Karachi Hockey Association ground under construction Gulshan-e-Iqbal.Karachi University Grass ground.
NED Engineering University Hockey ground.
Habib public School astro turf ground under construction.
Khalid bin Walid hockey ground soon to get plastic surface on Khalid bin Walid Road PECHS.
DHA hockey ground with plastic surface closed down YMCA murram ground Anwar Ahmed Khan hockey grassy ground at Polo ground
A number of local grounds exit in various neighborhoods.
Bakhtiari Youth Centre North Nazimabad not in use.
National stadium with floodlit turf wickets near Aga Khan hospital (international)
Quaid Azam Park Pakistan Steel town
Arabian Sea Country Club floodlit cricket ground
Landhi Gymkhana ground
TMC Ground Federal B. Area
Karachi University cricket stadium
NED university cricket ground
State bank of Pakistan cricket ground North Nazimabad
National sailing Club Clifton
Karachi Boat Club
Karachi Yacht Club
Pakistan Navy sailing course
Rowing Club China Creek behind Beach Luxury hotel
Peoples Football Stadium floodlit grassy ground on Mauripur Road
KPT football stadium grassy ground near Customs House.
Baloch Muhammaden Sharaffi Goth.
Ibrahim Hyderi football ground
CDGK (formerly KMC stadium).
DHA football ground
Malir football stadium
Layri football ground
Site football ground
Karachi University football ground
FIFA Goal Project II under planning at Hawks Bay
A number of open spaces all over the city are used as football ground
Pakistan Navy shooting range (international).
Arabian Sea Country Club Skeet Shooting range
National Sports Coaching Centre
KMC tennis complex (four courts and one full international stadium).
Karachi Gymkhana club level facility
Karachi Club (club level facility)
Pakistan Navy PNS Karsaz
Modern Club six courts private club
KMC Sports complex, Kashmir Road only public pool (fifty meter long)
Pakistan Navy PNS Karsaz swimming pool (fifty meter long)
Karachi Gymkhana (25 meter)
Muslim Gymkhana (25 meter)
Habib Public School (25 meters)
National coaching centre international tartan track
Karachi University earthen track
NED earthen track
Pakistan Customs hockey complex.
Pakistan Navy complex fleet club
DHA squash three side glass court
National Coaching Centre under construction
Karachi Gymkhana, Karachi Club, Modern Club and other clubs have squash courts.