by Natasha Raheel
KARACHI: Former Pakistan caretaker coach Shahzad Anwar is set to become Pakistan’s first Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Pro-License coach once he completes his six-month internship at Brazil’s Nacional Atletico Clube – the last condition before he is awarded the certificate.
Anwar began his coaching career in 1997 at a local school in Sargodha and then took certificate coaching courses offered by the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF). He then made his way into the national fold, first as an assistant coach and then taking over at the helm. He was also named the PFF Technical Director in 2015.
Now, with an AFC Pro-License diploma in his hand, Anwar may receive offers to coach abroad as well, as the certification is an equivalent of the UEFA Pro-License coach.
The 38-year-old hopes to get the official certificate from AFC soon. His difficult journey required him to not only study but practice at a professional league. He could not do so at home, since the Pakistan Premier Football League has not taken place for the last two years.
“It has been a long road for me, I’m happy that I managed to get six months in Brazil,” Anwar told The Express Tribune. “In the AFC Pro-License course we need to put in a certain amount of hours in the field, and in the given circumstances in Pakistan football, I had to look for an alternative. This pushed me to go to Sao Paulo where Nacional Atlético Clube took me in. They compete in Campeonato Paulista Série A3 that features teams in Sao Paulo State Championships. I’m also thankful to PFF for letting me pursue a professional diploma course.”
Anwar was also inducted in the Coaches Education Panel of the Union of Sao Paulo State Soccer Coaches (SITREFESP) in 2016 and the organisation helped him stay in Brazil for his visits. Anwar said that the biggest advantage for him was to learn from Brazilian football culture and now he hopes to instil the same discipline and practice in Pakistan, once football resumes in the country.
“I’m eagerly waiting for the PFF court case to get over so that we can start football again,” said Anwar.
But Anwar knows he must keep his options open. “I’ll go back to Brazil, where I’ll get to work,” said Anwar. “But my dream has always been to serve my country. In Pakistan, there is no concept of professional football, it is all very vague and everyone is working independently. In Brazil, I learned, that even the smallest club and their players have a very professional attitude. In Pakistan most coaches don’t even know how to deal with players or how they should run the management. I need to work in Pakistan, just so that we can improve this environment and bring in experts. But in case nothing changes in the next few weeks, I’ll go back.”