by Natasha Raheel
KARACHI: The 2016 Balochistan Football Cup may be an encouraging initiative in the country’s biggest — albeit least populated — province, but underlying problems such as power politics, insufficient facilities and untrained players can cause the tournament to fade before becoming a regular fixture.
The event is featuring 32 teams from all six divisions of the province with matches taking place at six different venues, while sponsors Pakistan Petroleum Limited have announced a prize money of Rs5 million for the winners. Special kits for the participants have been prepared as well.
However, former Pakistan U23 captain Jadeed Khan says that while organising the tournament is a big achievement, his club Afghan FC is not taking part in the event.
“Our club, which has also played in the Pakistan Premier Football League, chose not to participate in the tournament out of fear that the other faction of the Pakistan Football Federation may persecute us later,” Jadeed told The Express Tribune. “So we’ve decided not to go for any events held by either of the two parallel bodies.”
The 25-year-old feels that Balochistan is a minefield of potential football talent, but a lack of facilities and professional training is an insurmountable hurdle in grooming competitive footballers.
“Most of the players in my club work as labourers or earn through makeshift stalls during the day. We play for the love of the game, but it becomes a burden when we don’t get the right facilities,” said Jadeed. “It’s heart-breaking because the choice comes down to playing football or earning.”
The cup’s day one saw Quetta winning their opening match against Pishin 2-0, Kharan crushing Washuk 4-0 and Lasbela receiving a walkover against Awaran, as the team did not show up.