The Pakistan Football Federation has added several feathers to its cap in recent years, without achieving much both on and off the field.
And one of their many self-anointed ‘successes’ is the haphazard creation and eventual running of their Women’s Wing.
As mentioned in the glorifying press releases, the Women’s Wing has made scintillating steps in the beautiful game for females. In 2006, the claim was that only eight registered clubs were present but around the time of the 2010 edition of the Women’s Championship, there were more than 32 teams vying for the glory.
However, the crux of the matter is that neither the PFF nor its Women’s Wing have played any major role in raising the sport or cultivating talents. The influx of the UEFA Champions League and Premier League culture has been far more apt in garnering a larger audience and encouraging youngsters to take up football.
Ms Rubina Irfan currently leads the Women’s Wing but instead of focusing on sound future plans and a roadmap for success, the PFF continuously self-praises on hiring a full-time administrator that has made no efforts to professionalise the country’s top tier competition.
According to Pakistan women’s football team skipper Sana Mehmood, the federation promises a lot but delivers next to nothing.
Yes, they managed to set up a league and got the ball rolling, but is that really all to it?
Pakistani football expert’s claim that Ms Irfan’s hiring was not down to her own capabilities, but rather her political affiliations with PML-Q that landed her the job. If that is indeed the case, it answers several questions that come to mind. Why doesn’t the Women’s Championship become more competitive? Why didn’t the PFF focus on the Pakistan women’s team after promising them ample exposure if they won a single game at the 2010 SAFF Cup (they made it to the semi-finals).
Clearly, AFC and FIFA funding are the only real aspirants that keep the PFF going for women’s football and they were certainly not expecting a spectacular showing in 2010, when the girls stormed into the latter stages of the SAFF Cup and did the whole country proud.
While there is a certain doubt to whether the PFF can really achieve what they boldly claim in their press releases, one cannot deny that slowly but surely young women are taking part in the game and that alone can do wonders in the future, only if the correct path is taken.
The Women’s Wing first needs to identify its best crop of players and provide them year-round training to acquire match-fitness, sharpness and a killer instinct.
Furthermore, international exposure and regular matches is the main bane of Pakistani football and the women’s team also suffers due to this.
Coaches are also short in demand and although Tariq Lutfi has proven to be a lackluster option when it comes to the men’s side, his laudable achievements cannot be forgotten with the girls. With him at the helm and a continuous supply of talent, the team has a decent chance of making a dent at least on a South Asian level.
While the PFF does call in foreign experts, like they did with Monika Staab in 2007, these occasional lollipops do little for the game, while like the rest of the federation; competence and professionalism continues to evade the women’s game, too.
The writer is editor of FootballPakistan.com.