Punjab Higher Education Minister Raja Yassir Humayun Sarfraz on Tuesday said the University Sports League (USL) would act as the finest sports nursery for producing and grooming sportsmen for Olympics and national teams.

The minister was addressing a grand launch and trophy unveiling ceremony of USL held at the Government College University Lahore under the auspices of Higher Education Department, Punjab.

Minster Raja Sarfraz, Secretary Higher Education Punjab Sajid Zafar Dall and GCU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Asghar Zaidi unveiled the trophies for the winners of USL along with the legendary sportsmen including cricket star Saeed Ajmal, former Olympian Samiullah Khan, Pakistan Hockey Team head coach Khawaja Muhammad Junaid, former volleyball team capital Muhammad Naseer and Shabana Akhtar, Pakistan’s first woman to compete at Olympics in 1996.

Giving details of the League, Raja Sarfraz said that as many as 381 teams of girls and boys from 59 universities were participating in ten games including Athletics, Cricket, Squash, Tennis, Volley Ball, Badminton, Football, Hockey and Basketball. He said that scholarships and cash awards worth Rs. 19 million would be awarded to the best sportsmen of the USL 2020 along with foreign tours and training.

He announced that USL would become an annual feature of Punjab and promote sporting culture among the youth of their province and provide them with the healthy activities around the year.

“I am sure that once this idea takes off, it will also provide a new revenue stream to the academic institutions through sponsorship and alumni funding,” the minister concluded

Secretary Sajid Zafar Dall said that a lack of integration among universities in Punjab and this sports league would also provide a platform to teachers and students of different universities to interact at a platform and learn from each other experiences.

He also said that the educational value of sports and its role in character building of youth could not be denied besides sports activities mitigate the rigorous academic stress and refrain youth from involving unhealthy and anti-social activities.

“This League comprising of more than 1,000 matches would also increase the students’ affiliation and ownership with their institutions; additionally, this spirited and competitive atmosphere will help in creating an optimistic, moderate and healthy society,” Dall said.

Vice Chancellor Prof Asghar Zaidi said that sports had been a prominent feature of humanity since ancient times immemorial; games played in Egypt and Greece had been followed with religious zeal, where the athletic meats were full of grant celebrations.

He also said that sportsmanship was more important than winning an event. He called upon students to play for the glory of sports and of their alma maters and never use unfair means to achieve vain glory which is short-lived and fruitless.

Olympian Samiullah Khan said that USL was a great idea as Pakistan desperately needed a system and a breeding ground for producing legendary sportsmen. He remembered that he had never paid any college or admission fee as scholarships had been available to all sportsmen during his times.

Philanthropist Sabahat Rafiq announced rupees one million scholarship/cash award for the best sportsmen of USL.

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