Rabwah was the first town in Pakistan to be established from scratch. From acquiring a piece of land, to drawing its map, to erecting houses, offices, complexes, commercial buildings and markets; all was done on a piece of land that required no geological expert to call it a wasteland.
However, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra made it possible through his out-of-this-world willpower and unyielding determination. The transformation of this “wasteland” (as the world saw it) into a town with the amenities of a metropolitan city needs to be told at length.
So, missing out the medical amenities, educational facilities, infrastructure and commercial atmosphere that saw realisation within a very short span of months, we move on to sports.
In a town that had hardly just budded on the map, priorities should have been focused on the amenities mentioned above, but Khilafat has its own yardstick when it comes to vision.
This town, in its very infancy had developed a culture of its own, and a very rich one too. Sports were almost compulsory for all youth members. Facilities were provided and everyone was encouraged to use them.
Talim-ul-Islam College – with Hazrat Mirza Nasir Ahmadrh in charge – was where basketball courts first appeared. Hazrat Mirza Nasir Ahmadrh was not only a celebrated educationist of the country but also well-known for patronising sports. A bumpy court was where basketball was initially started, in the grounds across the road from T I College but was later developed into a purpose-built one where matches could be held.
This development led to T I College organising the All Pakistan Basketball Tournament in 1958. Teams from around the country participated and the small hamlet of Rabwah became the host of a national level tournament. Teams from Lahore Police, Brothers Club, YMCA, Lahore-Bombay Sports from Karachi, Agricultural College Faisalabad, Friends Club Sargodha, Government College Faisalabad and, of course, T I College Rabwah were among the many teams that played. Prizes were awarded to the winning teams and to players of distinction by Hazrat Sir Zafrulla Khanra.
This first tournament proved so popular that it became an annual event of T I College but one that sent a wave of excitement in the whole of Rabwah. Professor Dr Naseer Khan Sahib and Professor Chaudhry Muhammad Ali Sahib were instrumental in organising the event every year.
Various other sports held in Rabwah attracted nationwide attention and opened avenues for many sportsmen to emerge from those tournaments and play at national levels. Tahir Kabaddi Tournament, Horse Racing and Tent Pegging were among the many sports that punctuated the calendar of Rabwah.
Majlis-e-Sehat that organised many such events was founded in Pakistan under the auspices of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIIrh. He announced this in an event of Talim-ul-Islam College during his Khilafat. The Majlis was given a more formal status by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh. Here in London, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa has graciously blessed eight out of the ten Masroor International Cricket Tournaments with his presence in the final matches and the prize distribution ceremonies.