Players from Pakistan’s street child squad on EPL’s radar [Express Tribune]

Players from Pakistan’s street child squad on EPL’s radar [Express Tribune]

By Natasha Raheel,

KARACHI: Making a career in the English Premier League (EPL) is a goal for many aspiring footballers around the world. And Raziq Mustaq — the 2014 Street Child World Cup bronze-winning captain — and his squad may just have a shot at being recruited to one of the world’s elite football leagues in the coming months.

The 15-year-old, along with teammate Mehr Ali and coach Abdul Rashid, will be flying to the UK on Saturday for a three-month stay to take language courses at the Cambridge University and to showcase their talent at the local clubs in England.

“We’ve been told that Liverpool and other local clubs in the UK might be interested in our players,” said Azad Foundation director and team manager Itfan Maqbool.

Read: Brazil beckons for Pakistan’s street kid footballers

Along the way, Raziq will join his squad at the Norway Cup, which will start on July 25 and is expected to feature at least 1,400 teams.

“One of the EPL directors will be coming to see our team play in Norway with Street Child World Cup co-founder John Wroe,” added Maqbool. “We’re sure that our players will not return empty-handed.”

According to Raziq, winning the bronze medal in Brazil last year shaped his life for good, and football is all that matters for him and all his future endeavours will be for football. “I feel football is the only thing that will help me in life. So I just want to make sure as the captain of the team that we score in each match, and we win. I’ll be the captain in Norway, so I’ll ensure that we perform well under pressure too.”

Coach Rashid believes that his hard work with the team spanning two years now will pay off, and his players will make him proud despite him being in the UK for the courses. “I’m confident that they’ll impress their opponents,” said Rashid. “I hope my training in the UK will enable me to help them improve their game.”

Read: Street Child World Cup: Not the title, but Pakistani kids win a lot of hearts

The squad is set to take part in Chicago Kics, an international tournament scheduled to begin on July 21, and will feature different teams from at least 12 countries and other local clubs in the US. Raziq, Mehr and Rashid will be unable to accompany them due to their commitments in the UK.