Starting them young: APFA Elite Academies to be inaugurated in three cities [Express Tribune]

Starting them young: APFA Elite Academies to be inaugurated in three cities [Express Tribune]

By Natasha Raheel,

KARACHI: While football in Pakistan does not receive the same attention as cricket, there are many who believe that one day the country’s football landscape will improve.

And it is with this belief that former K-Electric coach, Majid Shafiq, plans to launch four Aspirations All-Pakistan Football Alliance (APFA) Elite Academies in Islamabad, Lahore and Rawalpindi on September 2, with the intention of opening 16 more across the country.

The APFA Elite Academies project aims to serve as a development ground for children and budding youngsters to improve their technical skills while also being trained to understand the importance of diet plans and exercise routines.

Each academy will have 240 players, from age groups of 10-28 years, who would be divided into four categories, based on the required skill, with each group having an exclusive developmental programme.

And Majid, an English Football Association-accredited coach and technical director of the academies, believes that his mission can harness young talent, which can benefit the domestic league and eventually the national side. “It’s a mission and a goal to fill the fields with people who can be role models for children,” Majid told The Express Tribune. “What happens in a match is secondary to what a child learns when in the company of a good coach. That is our aim; to inspire.”

Majid also hopes that with the Elite Academies setup established in Pakistan and player profiling taking place on a professional basis, a lot of young players could attract interest from foreign leagues.

“Player profiling is very important as it is the first thing that football clubs around the world look at,” he added. “I have been in talks with Purves Ali, who is Director of Professional Football Scouts in the UK and also works for Manchester United, and he is interested in unearthing football talent in Pakistan.”

The APFA Elite Academies have already ignited the interest of 1,460 applicants from Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Faisalabad, Peshawar, Quetta, Sargodha, Chakwal and Sialkot, and more are expected to follow once the project gets under way.