FPDC Tales: Ahson Junani, ”My life in football; Let me play!”

By Ahson Junani, Gulshan Soccer Academy Full-Back

”Football has seen me have the best time of my life and have a difficult time having it…”

I started playing football at the age of eleven when it was time for the World Cup 2006. We created our team, Munir Fountain FC, and used to play matches with other local teams of Karachi. We did not have any coach and we used to do practice on our own to improve our basics(passing, controlling, etc). I was the smallest and youngest player in our team, I used to play fat right back from the beginning. As time passed by, this position became my favourite one because i love to run and create chances to score goals. After a certain period of time many players became busier in their studies and were not able manage time for the matches and practice, our team was finished. It is worth noting that back then we only used to play on streets!

I was always in search of good academies and clubs in Karachi. One day, I went to see GSA (Gulshan Soccer Academy) C-Level playing. They won 8-1 under the coach Sir Adam Jee. I was really impressed by the performance of the young players and the coach that is when I went home I said to my mother “Now I want to join this academy at any cost”. It took a few days to persuade my father and finally I got his permission. So, in the summer of 2009 I took part in GSA 3rd summer camp and in a short time I impressed the coach and he used to say “You are like a magnet, you learn very good and quickly”. I achieved second position in the summer camp with 72 points and was selected in the academy. After few months, I was promoted to GSA youth. My devotion towards football grew day by day. My favourite player is Patrice Evra as he also plays as a full back and this is why I chose number 3 for my kit. It is my dream to play for the Pakistan International Team and to be the first Pakistani to play for ManUtd!

Although, I am fully devoted towards the game, I have faced many difficulties in my career. One of the main problems is that in Pakistan, football is not given much importance, as compared to cricket and hockey, by the people of our country. This is why not many opportunities and facilities are provided to the players and most of the talent is lost. The politics and corruption has ruined the beauty of football in Pakistan and only those with good links and references get selected by the coaches. The players are uneducated and are paid very little like 10,000 – 30,000 which is not enough for a player to support his family these days when the inflation is at its peak! Its because of this that the people here concentrate more on their studies, jobs, etc and pay less attention towards football. The result is that our team is on 167th place in the world rankings!

Another problem for the kids is the support of parents. For many youngsters, the central point of their lives is twofold: family and sports. Sports are where they learn to interact with peers, where they judge themselves against others, often where they build self-esteem. The sad fact is that millions of young athletes receive little or no support from their parents. It’s the lucky kids who have parents supporting them and cheering for them at games, guiding them through troubles and sharing their victories. I am also facing the same problem, no family support for football. No one in my family supports me for football. What they want is only study and study and to get better jobs. This is the case with most of the youngsters here. It’s necessary to have some outdoors activities as well. Parents believe that there is no future in football because of the corruption and the players are paid very low which is insufficient to support their family. What I believe is that, we are the ones who can create a bright future.

The bottom line is that sadly there is no money in Pakistani Football and even though you want to dedicate your life for it, the concerned people have not created a system for you that can make you playing football as a career possible. Say that if the pay of a good footballer was even 70000-80000, when everyone being given a fair chance, people will jump at the opportunity to play football for life and train harder than ever to be the best! That is the day Pakistan will make the real stride towards World Cup Football!