by Azhar Khan
Lahore-Pakistan has finalised two young under-12 kids to represent the country in ‘Gazprom Football for Friendship (F4F) 2018’ program to be held from June 8 to 15, 2018 in Moscow, Russia.
Saarang Hout, hailing from a small town in Dera Ismail Khan, will be accompanying the delegation from Pakistan as ‘young football ambassador’ whereas Farzad Mehboob, hailing from Dera Ghazi Khan, has been selected as ‘young journalist’.
Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) Deputy General Secretary and Pakistan Representative for F4F Fahad Khan announced the selection of both the kids during a press conference held here at the PFF Headquarters on Thursday.
Speaking on the occasion, he said: “Both Saarang and Farzad belong to City School and both turned out to be the best friends, from the same class and same school. They are expected to make a lethal duo as they know each other in and out and this coherence is expected to bring out the best in them at this season of Gazprom F4F programme.”
Talking to the media, Saarang said: “It is like a dream come true for me. I belong to Dera Ismail Khan, though living in Lahore, but my family hails from a small village. Representing Pakistan alongside kids from 210 other countries is beyond my imagination. I will do my best to bring a lot of respect to Pakistan.”
Whereas Farzad said: “I belong to Dera Ghazi Khan and I study in City School. My aim is to tell the kids at the forum about how good my country is and how loving and peaceful we people are. I will make a lot of friends and perform to the best of my abilities.”
Fahad further said: “I am very impressed with the level of skills, these kids have. I am utterly surprised at the involvement of the parents and their emotions. We have seen a lot of the talent that can participate in our age relevant national team trials and if they are good enough to withstand that pressure, they can surely make it to our national team and wear Pakistan flag on their sleeve.”
About ‘Gazprom Football for Friendship’, he said it is the largest child outreach programe in the world and its success and ever growing roots world over can be assessed by the speed at which its growing.
“From 64 countries in the last season to 211 countries this year is phenomenal. It is changing the way children think about other children living far away from them through their parents who follow the news which is mostly politicized and formulated upon political agendas. This programme helps children connect at this young age and attain firsthand experience of kids from other countries, something that definitely will have a long term impact on attaining peace and brotherhood amongst humanity.”
Fahad thanked Vladimir Serov and his entire team for putting their mind and soul into such a beautiful cause and said this world needs more forums of this sort to bring people together and curb differences.
About selection procedure, Fahad said: “We invited sports heads from various schools in Lahore to apprise them about the event, then we sent out a press release regarding the trials to media and also spread through social media. Total 60 kids from various schools appeared for the trials for ‘young football ambassador’, whereas 13 kids participated in the interviews for the ‘young journalist’.
“For young ambassadors, we setup 5 different skill assessment stations where multiple skills were being tested. Then we appointed assessors from different backgrounds on all the workstations to test their agility, shooting and passing accuracy, dribbling, sprint and strength exercises and free kicks. Out of the 60 kids, 24 kids were shortlisted and later an extra trials session was organised on special requests of those parents, who were unaware of trials, and then the shortlisted kids added to the earlier pool of kids. Next day, rigorous/advanced trials along with matches were conducted to further assess the kids and then ‘young football ambassador’ was finalized.
“For the young journalist, I along with a renowned journalist from a Daily newspaper conducted interviews. Kids were assessed on the basis of mock interviews with other kids, their communication, delivery, confidence, networking ability and personality. Farzad turned out to the best of the lot,” he added.