By Alam Zeb Safi
KARACHI: In order to keep the young footballers in good shape, Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) is going to initiate ‘Fast Track Training Programme’ under which outfits of different age-groups will undergo training at regular intervals throughout the year.
“Our basic purpose behind this programme is to keep our best talent in form,” PFF secretary Col Ahmad Yar Khan Lodhi told The News on Friday.
The services of almost all the AID-27 coaches will be utilized under this programme. They will be paid for their duty in the shape of healthy daily allowances. But these coaches will be deprived of their perks and privileges which they were previously getting in the form of monthly salaries in dollars.
Sources in the PFF said that previously most of the coaches were not performing properly in spite of drawing monthly salaries. But there are certain coaches who are not happy with the decision of the PFF to sack all coaches at once. “The PFF should have sacked and stopped the salaries of those coaches who were not performing well. There are a few coaches who have done a marvelous job during the last five years and the way they have been treated is not understandable,” a coach said.
Under the Fast Track Training Programme, Pakistan Under16 team, which lifted SAFF Under16 Cup title last year, is expected to start their camp in Lahore from January 25. All 22 players who were part of the SAFF Under16 Cup have been invited for the camp which will continue for around 20 days. A team official said that there is still space for addition to the same lot. The same lot will be prepared for the AFC Under19 Championship Qualifiers to be held in 2013. Sajjad Mehmood, under whose coaching Pakistan won the SAFF Under16 Cup last year, will serve as coach of the team during the whole exercise.
Pakistan Under19 team, which recently took part in the AFC Under19 Championship Qualifiers in Iran, is expected to start its training from February 25. Sources said that the schedule of the camp could be altered because of the National Challenge Cup which will be held in Karachi from March 10-23. Shehzad Anwar, a License-A coach, will supervise the Under19 team camp. The motive behind the Under19 team preparation is to build a strong side for the 2016 Olympic Qualifiers which will be held in 2013-14. An important thing about the national Under19 team is that almost all the players are part of the playing elevens of departments. Only Amir Hamza and Rafique, both from Balochistan, are yet to sign a deal with any department.
Five players, Junaid Qadir, Saddam Hussain, Naveed Ahmad and goalkeepers Saqib Hanif and Muzammil Hussain, are also part of the Pakistan senior team. Experts said if the authorities focused on this team and gave it more international exposure, it could turn out to be a surprise package during the Olympic Qualifiers in which Pakistan have historically performed poor.
Both the Under16 and Under19 team coaches in their proposals have also asked for international exposure for these teams. A team official said that generally 30 to 40 international matches are required annually for making a team competitive. But if these teams get even 12 to 15 matches annually, it would be sufficient for raising their standard, he said.
The preparatory plan under the fast track exercise is also for the Pakistan Under14 team which will feature in the AFC Under14 Festival to be hosted by Pakistan in Islamabad in April. After featuring in this event, the team will be kept active by holding camps at regular intervals. The process will help Pakistan raise a strong stuff for the senior team.