Lahore-Pakistan’s junior table tennis (TT) champion Perniya Zaman Khan has said that she is eyeing gold medal in the South Asian Games as she has big dreams to fulfill in her career.
The young sensation has so far participated in South Asian Games 2019 in Nepal from Pakistan seniors team, won gold medal in National Junior Table Tennis Championship 2019, gold in Punjab Olympics Table Tennis Championship 2019 and bronze in Junior SAF Games 2017 in Sri Lanka while she has also attended training camp in Beijing, China for one month.
In an interview with The Nation here on Sunday, 16-year-old Perniya, who is Grade 11 O’3 student of LGS, said: “I am grateful to Allah Almighty that I have won many national events at this young age and also represented my country in international events. After becoming national junior champion, my next target is to win a gold medal in South Asian Games table tennis event and make my country proud.”
When asked about her inspiration before adopting this game as a professional, she replied: “When I saw Pakistan No. 1 Asim Qureshi playing, he instantly became my inspiration. Then I started working very hard and my family including my father, who himself is a squash player, my brother, table tennis player, and my mother, who table tennis enthusiast, supported me a lot, the result of which is that today I am a national junior champion and eager to win more laurels for the country at international level.
“As far as international table tennis stars are concerned, my favourite female international player is China’s Cheng Meng, who is current world No. 1 while in male category, China’s Fan Zhendong, who is current world No. 2, inspired me a lot. I often see their videos, which prove very helpful in improving my game and techniques,” she added.
About her practice routine, she said: “It’s my habit to wake up early and do one-hour physical training while in the afternoon after having lunch, I do two hours table tennis training with my coach and in the evening, I play games at table tennis club for three hours daily. But due to Covid-19 pandemic, my practice routine has been disturbed badly. As per government orders, all clubs are closed, therefore, I am doing my practice at home and trying to keep me fit and ready for the upcoming events.”
When asked about role and contributions of Pakistan Table Tennis Federation (PTTF) in her achievements, Perniya said: “The Pakistan Table Tennis Federation is very corporative with the players but unfortunately, the government has stopped their funds for the last two years due to which they cannot even provide us with tickets to go and participate in the international events.
“Due to non-availability of funds, the federation cannot even invite international coaches to Pakistan for the improvement of table tennis players to international level,” she said and added: “Without funds, the federation cannot even arrange tournaments in Pakistan frequently. I appeal to Prime Minister Imran Khan to think about the sportspersons before they start quitting their respective games and adopt other professions for survival.”
Replying to a query regarding availability of facilities to the players, the champion said: “The government does not provide any facility to table tennis players, that’s why this game is declining fast in the country. The passionate players like me are still bearing the cost of travel tickets from our own pockets. There are no table tennis clubs available while there is no professional coaching and equipment available for the players. On the other hand, we need international exposure with full time international coaching to excel at international level, but unfortunately, Pakistani players badly lack such facilities.”
Lauding the services of her department for the country and its players, Perniya, who is junior national champion and ranked 3 senior female player, said: “Pakistan Wapda is the only and the last hope for the survival of games in the country.
Nobody likes to join other departments because of very less salary packages and facilities, which are too less to survive and prosper. So like so many other top ranked Wapda players, I am also very grateful to my department and its entire management, which is very keen to promote sports in the country and its players are consecutively winning glories at national and international level.”