Over recent years there has been an increase in sporting activity in Pakistan, with Pakistani sportsmen and women participating at many national and international events. Also, more international tournaments now take place in Pakistan. The size of the teams Pakistan sends, and the number of events they participate in the Olympic and Commonwealth Games has increased since the turn of the century.
The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) is the national governing body of field hockey in Pakistan. The Pakistan men’s team has won three gold medals at the Olympics and lifted the Hockey World Cup four times. It has also won the most number of Asian gold medals and is the only Asian team to have won the prestigious Champions Trophy. It has been consistently ranked amongst the top teams in the world. Notable players include Sohail Abbas, Mohammed Saqlain and Waseem Ahmad.
Cricket has a huge following and based on attendance figures at games, is the most popular sport in the country. Pakistan has produced many multi-talented players who have been among the best batsmen and bowlers in the world. Almost all districts and neighborhoods in Pakistan have a cricket team and people start playing from a young age. Pakistan has won a lot of international cricket events, including the World Cup in 1992, besides finishing as runners up in 1999 World Cup and 2007 World Twenty20. Pakistan’s cricket teams take part in domestic competitions such as the ABN-AMRO Cup, the ABN-AMRO Patron’s Trophy, ABN-AMRO Twenty-20 Cup, and the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. International test and one-day matches are played between the Pakistan national team and foreign opponents regularly. Notable cricket players from Pakistan include Wasim Akram, Javed Miandad, and Imran Khan.
Squash is another sport that has a large following in Pakistan. Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan are considered legends of the sport and have won several World Squash Championships and other tournaments.
Pakistan has won the squash World Open 17 times, and British open 12 times the highest by any nation. Carla Khan, Pakistan’s most successful sportswoman is one of a number of men and women who represent Pakistan. The Pakistan Squash Federation is the governing body of the sport in the country. The Pakistan Open tournament is one of the premier events of the sport in the country. Every province of the country holds it’s own men’s and women’s championships. Some other notable players from Pakistan include Hashim Khan, Torsam Khan, and Qamar Zaman.
Football has always been the so-called poor man’s sport but is really popular as a means of entertainment and activity for all age groups. Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) is the official organization in Pakistan. Football (soccer) is played mostly on a local level, primarily in Balochistan and North-West Frontier Province. These areas provide most of the players on the national team. Pakistan Football Federation Women Organizing Committee (PFFWOC) is responsible for women’s football in Pakistan. In 2004, the Pakistan Premier League was established and is the first division of Pakistani football. The Pakistan National Football Challenge Cup is the national “knockout” cup competition in Pakistani football, run by the Pakistan Football Federation. Notable players include Muhammad Essa, Zeshan Rehman and Haroon Yousaf.
Tennis is also very popular and Pakistanis compete in various international events. The Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) organizes the game in the country.
Khawaja Saeed Hai was the first Pakistani to reach a Grand Slam, playing at Wimbledon, the US Open, and at the French Open where he made it to the third round. Haroon Rahim was the most successful, a winner of a number of ATP Singles and Doubles titles.
The Pakistan Davis Cup team has previously reached the world group play-offs, with the help of Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi, currently Pakistan’s number one, and Aqeel Khan, the number two.
Polo, which is believed to have originated in Central Asia, and continues to be an important sport there with several large annual competitions. The Shandur Polo Tournament, played at the world’s highest polo ground every June, is one of the biggest tourist draws to Chitral and Gilgit in Northern Pakistan. The competition was created in the 1920s to promote integration between the various tribes and the British rulers. The Shandur Pass was picked as the location because, at 11,000ft above sea level, it was seen as a ridge between heaven and hell. Key tournaments of the season are the Uprising Day tournament in early November in Gilgit, or the Pakistan Independence Day tournament in Skardu, early August. The Pakistan Polo Association (PPA) organize the sport, and the national side takes part in the Polo World Cup. Polo is played professionally with a number of Argentinean players playing in Pakistan.