The Street Child World Cup kicked-off in Brazil and Pakistan faced a tough task against reigning champions India in their opening game. However, the young Shaheens wowed everyone and came out on top with a 13-0 win in their first ever game of the tournament!
Behind Pakistan’s emphatic victory was 15-year-old Raziq Mushtaq, who scored eight goals to become the start of the show.
“I am very happy to score eight goals. I have always dreamed of being a footballer,” beamed Raziq while talking to AFP.
“But I never dreamed of playing an event in Brazil, the land of football,” said the youngster, the pick of a selection spotted by non-profit charity Azad Foundation which rehabilitates street children in Karachi.
Robbed of a triple hattrick only by the crossbar, Raziq said the tournament was the opportunity of a lifetime for him and another 230 children, boys and girls, at an event which boasts former England skipper David Beckham as a patron.
– ‘A game, not war’ – “Football is more than just a game for us. At home, people will be proud — especially as it was India we beat,” he told AFP.
“But this is a game, not a war. The teams have been billeted together and we are friends. I want to turn professional and support my family and then other children,” he added after a match preceded by the playing of both nations’ national anthems, during which players sang and placed right hands on hearts,” added Raziq.
The Pakistan squad had worked hard on the pitch to get where they are according to Syed Iftan Maqbool of the Azad Foundation, who have managed, selected and got the team into the World Cup.
And that paid off with Pakistan later beating Kenya to come out on top in Group ‘3’.
“You have to set the bar high,” Maqbool told AFP after the win over Kenya.
Azad Foundation Chairperson Managing Committee Naveed Hasan Khan also expressed his delight with his Pakistan’s win, claiming that the squad has immense potential, despite only training for a month in Karachi.
“The Indian side just didn’t realise what happened to them,” he told The Express Tribune. “Our team shocked everyone. This win has been a huge confidence boost for the children.”
“This performance exceeded our expectations, but now we know that we can do even better,” he said.
The participation of the Pakistan team in the Brazil-hosted tournament has attracted attention from all areas of the world, with England-based Syed Farrukh E Bokhari urging the authorities to help out Street children.
“In these cases, the government should become a guardian. They should facilitate that. A child should not need a piece of paper to say ‘I am someone.’ He is who he is. I am who I am,” he said.
Pictures of Pakistan’s win over India can be watched here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10153930080575234.1073741884.66377055233&type=1