Pakistan’s only World Boxing Council silver champion Muhammad Waseem urged the nation to pay attention to the environment on the Earth Day, but also expressed his concern as an athlete about the fast-increasing global warming.

Waseem became the first Pakistani boxer to fight for the world championship title last month in Dubai against Britain’s Sunny Edwards for the title bout sanctioned by International Boxing Federation, which he unfortunately lost but he is still in the top three in the boxing world.

Waseem has an impeccable career, not only bagging medals for Pakistan in the amateur phase of his journey at the Asian Games, World Military Games, Commonwealth Games and South Asian Games, but also fighting 14 bouts, with eight knock-outs and two defeats, both when he was attempting for the world title.

Waseem is originally from Quetta but he has to train abroad as there are no proper facilities available to him. 

“For sportsmen, cold weather is suitable as warm weather gets you dehydrated and you get easily tired,” Waseem told The Express Tribune. “I, as a sportsman, would always prefer a cold place for my fitness and training.”

He trained in the United Kingdom, while during his career for Pakistan Boxing Federation he had to train in Karachi, which has not only unhealthily humid weather conditions but also has an increasing pollution problem.

“On earth day, I want to say that we should plant more trees and plants for a pleasant and cooler environment,” said Waaseem.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Tennis Federation vice-president and Sindh Tennis Association President Khalid Rehmani urges increased action on Earth Day 2022 as he spoke to The Express Tribune. “If all the associations affiliated with the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) work on the environmental aspects, the outcome will be so much different. Now more than ever it is a necessity for the sports federations to start taking measures for climate change and how it is affecting sport and especially our athletes.” 

Being a big and proactive part of the tennis community especially in Sindh and Pakistan, Rehmani has been working diligently on beach tennis as well. He even set up the Sindh Tennis Association Environmental Commission in compliance with the POA that had announced their own Environmental Commission in 2020, however, only few national federations took note of the work that needs to be done through sports.

The POA worked in accordance with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as it also announced in 2021 that it wants to “cut its direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent by 2030, as part of its commitment to tackling climate change.”

“It was just the PTF and us along with probably one or two more that took the environmental aspect of sports seriously. The POA EC has been active for two years now. They asked us to work on the environment and sustainability. In Sindh for example, we made the cleaning after the events, planting trees and having conducive conditions an integral part which can help the athletes give good results,” said Rehmani.

He emphasized that the way climate change and pollution in urban cities are affecting the athletes is visible and measurable in comparison to the athletes who are coming from the northern areas of the country.

“We can see in the results. The athletes from cities like Karachi, their lungs are not as strong as their counterparts from up north, and they can’t even compete with the ones from areas that have less pollution for example. The carbon emissions, the pollution that we have in the cities is not only making the environment worse for everyone but also for the athletes. Similarly, if we look at the diets, they are not on organic diets, but the food that is available to them is not coming with great nutrients either because of the industrial farming and unclean environment,” said Rehmani.

He added that lack of forestation is playing a part in bad conditions, while only few sports organisations and federations are even taking part in plantation drives.

“I feel if all the 40 federation that come under the umbrella of POA take this seriously, hold workshops every month and collaborate. We can make progress along with working in connection with local governments and bodies. The government too needs to work actively for awareness,” said Rehmani.

He said that beach tennis is another discipline where the Sindh Tennis Association sees the impact regularly.

“The seas are extremely polluted and the beaches are going bad. We clean our part of the area when we hold the events, even the players take part in the cleaning process, but it only lasts for a short period as these public place takes no time in getting dirty again,” said Rehmani.

He said that at the end of the day it is the awareness and education that is required, not just occasionally but on a regular basis.

On Earth Day 2022 the theme has been “Invest in Our Planet”.

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