LAHORE – The Pakistan Football Federation’s (PFF) endeavours to popularize the game in the country and rope in support of the leading business houses to achieve this objective found Zong, a major player in this country’s mobile telecom sector, keen and willing to lend its corporate muscle in a critical area: grooming of indigenous talent at world-standard excellence centres abroad.
On its own initiative, Zong had decided to independently select a bunch of 16 young and upcoming players and as many coaches after countrywide trials – held at Lahore, Karachi, Rawalpindi/Islamabad, Multan and Faisalabad – with a view to sending them abroad for a crash training stint of short but meaningful duration.
In a spirit of contributing to the society as a responsible corporate citizen, Zong intended to sponsor the entire cost, footing the bill for the cumbersome trial process, travel to the Middle East, board and lodge and training costs over there. What is important, the fallout was a win-win situation for Pakistan football, for it was a good idea that could spawn rapid growth through depth of understanding of nascent talents at an impressionable age.
As it transpired, the independent trial process turned out to be a ringing endorsement of the PFF’s selection processes being aboveboard: exactly half – eight out of the 16 – turned out to be the young ones already drafted in the PFF’s age-group squads in Under-13 and Under-16 categories.
Faisal Saleh Hayat, the PFF president, while welcoming the Zong enterprise said, “other corporate entities should take a note of this. The PFF is making its own endeavours to popularize the global game in a manner that could make a difference. Such corporate projects could speed up that process.”
The PFF president while talking to this scribe also said: “It needs to be remembered that as a consequence of decades of neglect and mismanagement, Pakistan has lacked the basic infrastructure for the effective organization and appropriate growth and expansion of the game in this country.
“In the last few years that I have been president PFF, I and my management team have made a relentless effort to gradually get the infrastructure and the systems in place that could take our football to the next level. The transparency of our systems and our ability to deliver has convinced the AFC and the FIFA to invest in our football.
“The results are quite tangible and there for all to see and assess: Football Houses have been constructed or under construction in all provincial capitals and Azad Kashmir and the Pakistan football teams at all levels have been consistent performers at the regional level. Now we have to aim higher and go beyond that. We’re positive that, having been put on the path of progress, we would be able to get there in the years to come.”
With the intent to appreciate and engage Zong, the PFF has swiftly issued a no objection certificate to the activity and the 16 players will shortly fly out to Abu Dhabi where they would get professional training for one week at the Manchester United Soccer School.
The eight players, who were already part of the PFF programme and now beneficiaries of Zong’s patronage, are: Muhammad Zeeshan, Muhammad Nawaz, Saddam Hussain, Muhammad Usman, Zain-ul-Abidin, Munir, Sana Ullah, Muhammad Shoaib Ahmed.
Source: Pakistan Today