Synergyzer: Congratulations on being elected as the Vice President of the South Asian Bodybuilding Association! How does it feel to hold such a prestigious position, and what are your plans for promoting bodybuilding in the South Asian region during your tenure?
Sohail Anwar: Thank you. I’m deeply honoured by the South Asian Bodybuilding Association’s decision, which not only acknowledges Pakistan but also places me in this Vice-Presidential role. I’m committed to fulfilling my responsibilities diligently. I aim to organise championships where Pakistan plays a significant role. Collaborating with the Indian President, we envision organizing Indo-Pak championships, akin to cricket, to promote bodybuilding in the South Asian region further.
Synergyzer: Could you highlight your initiatives as the Pakistan Bodybuilding Association Secretary to promote sport and wellness awareness?
Sohail Anwar: Through my dedication to promoting health and fitness in Pakistan with the motto “Building a Healthy Nation,” I’ve expanded my efforts beyond bodybuilding. I’ve conducted seminars and awareness programs introducing modern health and fitness techniques. While bodybuilding remains a focus, we’ve diversified into categories like Junior, Fitness Model Physique, and Athletic Model Physique. This advocacy now embraces all age groups, fostering a society that values fitness, health, and overall well-being. The goal is not just to nurture champions but to cultivate a community that prioritizes a wholesome and healthy lifestyle.
Synergyzer: Pakistan’s success in bodybuilding has been growing, as evidenced by its recent achievements at the Asian Bodybuilding Championship. What do you think is the scope of bodybuilding in Pakistan, and how can the country further excel on the international stage?
Sohail Anwar: Pakistani athletes have not only secured medals in the Asian Bodybuilding Championship but have also made their mark in the World Bodybuilding Championship. We have actively sent athletes to represent our country on international platforms, and we encourage more athletes to participate in such global competitions. We urge the relevant authorities to support athletes when a federation selects them for international contests. By doing so, Pakistan can further enhance its standing on the international stage.
Synergyzer: While cricket is immensely popular in Pakistan, bodybuilding often doesn’t receive the same level of attention. How can we bridge this gap and increase the popularity of bodybuilding as a mainstream sport
Sohail Anwar: Cricket benefits from government support and private sponsors, resulting in large-scale events. However, it’s noteworthy that not all matches receive the same level of response, except when Pakistan faces prominent international teams or especially in India-Pakistan clashes. On the other hand, bodybuilding and fitness events garner significant public interest, irrespective of whether they are international championships or local district contests. By garnering government, private sector, and media interest and hosting family-friendly events, international tours, and substantial prizes for winners, we can certainly narrow this gap.
Synergyzer: Despite the growth of bodybuilding, it still faces challenges in gaining sponsorships and financial support. What do you believe are the reasons sponsors don’t show as much interest in bodybuilding as they do in other sports, and how can this be changed?
Sohail Anwar: In Pakistan, the scarcity of sponsors for bodybuilding championships can be attributed to the proliferation of multiple federations, each claiming to be the official one. This confusion leads sponsors to lose interest. To remedy this, the government and the Olympic authorities must establish a single official federation, eliminating this ambiguity. In our own efforts, we have organised bodybuilding events with a strong focus on marketing, substantial prizes for winners, and extensive media coverage. Mr. Kunwar Moeez Khan, CEO of TopCity-1 and President of PBBF, has generously sponsored our events and facilitated athletes’ participation in international competitions. Through such initiatives, we aim to build trust with sponsors, resulting in an increased willingness to support bodybuilding in Pakistan.
Synergyzer: How can ordinary individuals who are passionate about bodybuilding and fitness get involved in the field and potentially compete at national and international levels?
Sohail Anwar: Passion for bodybuilding and fitness offers dual avenues: commercial and professional. Non-fitness individuals with management acumen can establish gyms, employ trainers, or venture into equipment manufacturing/importing. Dedicated fitness enthusiasts aspiring for national/international success can follow these steps:
National Level: Join local bodybuilding contests for experience.
International Level: Excel nationally, await Pakistan Bodybuilding Federation’s athlete selection, or self-fund and coordinate with PBBF for global participation. Pakistan sees growing exploration of diverse bodybuilding-related sectors by informed individuals and investors.
Synergyzer: As a judge and official affiliated with various bodybuilding associations, what role do you think federations and governing bodies play in the overall development of bodybuilding in Pakistan?
Sohail Anwar: In my opinion, it’s crucial for senior bodybuilders and coaches to unite under a single federation officially recognized by governing bodies. The current fragmented situation not only impacts bodybuilding and fitness events in Pakistan but also leads to a decline in athlete enthusiasm and participation.
Synergyzer: Finally, what are your thoughts on why Pakistan has faced some challenges in the bodybuilding field compared to other countries, and what steps can be taken to overcome these obstacles and elevate the status of bodybuilding in the country?
Sohail Anwar: Pakistan’s bodybuilding sector grapples with hurdles that demand rectification through the involvement of the youth by senior figures in the Pakistan Olympic and Sports Board. While dedicated individuals, athletes, trainers, and judges have garnered recognition, political factors hinder progress. Athletes suffer from a lack of deserved acknowledgement and inadequate government funds. The board must prioritize athletes’ welfare over political gains, especially given the decline in sports performance. This scenario extends beyond bodybuilding, echoing wider sports governance and support concerns across Pakistan, contrasting cricket’s autonomous success to struggling sports like hockey.