Pakistani youngsters made the country proud on March 3, finishing with a bronze medal at the Ju-Jitsu International Federation’s World Junior and Aspirants Championships in Abu Dhabi. What made this performance all the more special was that the medal-winners, Hamza Farooq and Tanveer Ahmed were representing Pakistan for the first time in the duo show under-21 event in World Junior Ju-Jitsu Championships.
The youngsters’ victory at the World Junior Ju-Jitsu Championship was made even sweeter by the fact that the original line-up for the national team, which comprised around 10 12 players, could not travel to the UAE due to lack of finances. Hamza and Tanveer’s superb show, however, ensured that the country still managed to make a name for itself at the championships even with only meagre resources at the athletes’ disposal.
Greece finished with the gold medal at the event while Germany won the silver, followed by Pakistan with the bronze medal.
According to The Express Tribune, Pakistan Ju-Jitsu Federation (PJJF) official, Tariq Ali, who also doubled up as a referee at the tournament, was all praises for the Pakistani debutantes’ excellent performance at the World Junior Ju-Jitsu Championships.
“It has been a huge success for our players,” he said. “The federation wanted to send more athletes, yes, but again the government did not fund us and we had make do with the token participation, but both of our youngsters gave their best and bagging a medal is more than just a token.”
Given that Hamza and Tanveer’s participation at the event was being considered merely symbolic rather than something that could turn out to be more substantial at the World Junior Ju-Jitsu Championships, Pakistan’s third-place showing is truly remarkable. The bronze medal-winning duo maintained a consistently brilliant show throughout the 35-team tournament before losing to Germany in their final tie. They had been training in Lahore before the championship, and that training clearly paid off.
Ali believed that the significance of the two athletes’ exploits at the world junior level, competing against 35 countries, many of which had vastly greater resources at their disposal, could not be emphasised enough.
“We had limited participation, but it shows that we have no dearth of talent,” he told The Express Tribune. “If our full squad was at the event, our results would have been much better, but even then our players gave their all and they are the only Asians at the top in their event. It should inspire more players from this point onwards.”
Ali also revealed that the PJJF would be sending junior players in the under-21 category to more events in the future to prepare them for senior-level tournaments.
“It is crucial to give our youth players that exposure and opportunities to gain more experience so that they can be as confident as the athletes from other countries, so that is the goal,” he said.
Meanwhile, PJJF President Khalil Ahmed couldn’t hide his excitement either at Pakistan’s bronze-medal finish.
“It’s a great achievement on debut,” he told The News. “Due to lack of finances we managed to field only three fighters. Farhan Durrani of Navy featured in newaza and fighting but failed to grab any medal.”
Ahmed said that Pakistan’s performance at international ju-jitsu events has always been credible, but the sport still suffers from a lack of resources and financial backing from the government. Ju-Jitsu could prove to be a source of medals for Pakistan at major international championships if only the authorities concerned made more of an effort to promote the sport in the country.
Despite the problems ju-jitsu faces in Pakistan, the PJJF president revealed that the federation will be trying to hire a Brazilian coach to train the country’s athletes for the Asian Games, which are slated to be held in Indonesia from August 18 to September 2 this year.
“Hiring process is continuing,” he said. “And we are confident to get the services of a Brazilian coach soon. We want the Brazilian because the Asian Games will be held in Brazilian style and hiring the services of a coach from that country would be of great benefit for us.”
Hamza and Tanveer’s exploits prove that Pakistan has amazing sporting talent available, even when it comes to non-traditional sports. Before this splendid performance displayed at the World Junior Ju-Jitsu Championships, Pakistani female powerlifters had won 12 gold medals for the country at the Oceania Powerlifting Championship 2017, held in Singapore in December. This proves that if enough investments are made in the country’s sports infrastructure, Pakistan’s showing at major international events could improve by leaps and bounds.
Here is to hoping that Hamza and Tanveer, as well as other talented ju-jitsu athletes in Pakistan continue to make the country proud at the international level.