Sahibzada Muhammad Ali happens to live in my neighborhood. The 14 year old boy with striking good looks is studying in 8th grade. He loves junk food, which all kids of his age are apt to, he likes music, movies, TV, Internet and really abhors “sleeping early and studying late in exams”. He likes to travel abroad, have fun and loves to spend time with friends and family. These traits he shares with almost all teenagers of his age, but what really sets him apart from the pack is his love for Tennis and his skills at it. The lad is presently ranked no 2 in Asia!!! he has travelled half the world, participated in umpteen tournaments, won many of them and lost quite a few. The young sportsman feels happy on winning a tough match and feels down on loosing an easy one, quite understandably. I just could not stop myself from interviewing this rising star. Here’s some bit of tête-à-tête with the little champ.
1. How and when did you start playing Tennis?
After watching Aisam Ul Haq and him reaching in US open Final I got inspired and started playing tennis in 2010.
2. What attracted you to the game?
In 2010 the Pakistan cricket team lost in the semi-final of T20 and on the other hand Aisam Ul Haq reached to the finals of US open so I got inspired and promised myself that if Aisam can be a single person to bring honours to the country I also can do big for the country so I decided to play tennis.
3. Where exactly do you stand now?
I have been playing final of Asian tennis federation (Under 14) and have also won some of them.
4. Who is more supportive? Mom or Dad?
Dad. He can go to any extent for the betterment of my game.
5. How do you balance studies and sports?
I play tennis all the year and study less but before exams I study more and Alhamdulillah I cover it easily.
6. How do friends reacts to your fame?
My friends always motivate me and always support me. They are proud of me.
7. So what’s your dream?
My dream is to be world no.1 in tennis Inshallah. Would work hard for it Inshallah.
8. Are you determined to reach top?
Yes I am working hard.
9. What are your worst fears?
I am afraid of being injured because after that I can’t play for quite some time.
10. What about all the matches that you have won? Or do have any titles and trophies?
Yes I have won plenty of trophies/titles in different age categories.
11. Your present ranking?
My present ranking is No 2 in Asia (ATF Under-14 category)
12. What problems are you facing in pursuing your dream?
Good Coaches are not available, no tennis camps are arranged, No Foreign training imparted to players and quality of courts are not good.
Do you get funding/sponsorships?
13. Has the Pakistan Tennis Federation helped in any way?
No they are resource less. They are not even able to arrange tournaments and funds for the players.
14. What measures would make this system better than what it is now?
More tournaments, summer and winter camps of tennis, top players should be sponsored by Pakistan Tennis Federation and players of every age should be sent abroad for tournaments and training.
15. If you get to the top, which I am sure you will, what would you do to improve the system for Tennis lovers?
I will try to make academies so players can train there and can bring laurels to the country.
Ok, before I unleash hell on the powers that be, including the Pakistan Tennis Federation, the Sports Minister, his Ministry and all sundry loosely related to destroying the sports culture in Pakistan and their inability, inefficiency and apathy in supporting the likes of Sahibzada Muhammad Ali, ladies and gents, boys and gals enjoy some pics of our Champ in the making.
Ali with the group on ITF trip to Bangkok.
The Pakistan Team at Bangkok ITF.
The boy is all smiles in Bangladesh!
At Long Beach, WOW! the dude really likes to travel a lot
IC Cup Karachi!
After the interview of sorts I had a small chat with Ali’s dad. What he told me left me bewildered, flustered, agitated, confused and angry. The gentleman told me, he has to this day got no support from anyone, no Pakistan Tennis Federation, no Sports Board no Ministry nothing! Its all being done by him for the love of his son. Hats off to you man. All the foreign trips and circuits that they have ever been to, it has always been funded by his father. Which by the way is really expensive. You know what really puts me off is that there’s no company sponsorship for such rising stars, I mean where in the world is Bata, or Servis. What about those big names like Warid, Telenor, Mobilink, Ufone, MilkPak, Lever Brothers, Gul Ahmed? Where are you guys? Shame on you.
And as for the Pakistan Tennis Federation woe to you!
You know, this little boy is one day going to make it big. I don’t have an iota of doubt in my mind about this. I mean look at his motivation, he sees Aisam ul Haq (another self made Tennis star), and decides to follow his passion. That, in plain words in called character which our leaders lack, big time. But when he gets there, he’s going to look back and see who all supported him and he’s going to find very few of them. But just imagine about the so many Sahibzada Muhammad Alis out there who have no one to support them. If only we could put a system in place for supporting all these young people in stead of forcing them to take guns in their hands and mug people. That’s what makes me feel bad, really bad. Hope against hope!
Sahibzada junior our best wishes for you. Take ‘em out boy, take ’em.
Enjoy the pics folks!
With his idol Aisam ul Haq.
Receiving trophy from the legendary Rashid Malik.