Razik Mushtaq: From Street Child World Cup to national squad [Express Tribune]

Razik Mushtaq: From Street Child World Cup to national squad [Express Tribune]

by Natasha Raheel

KARACHI: “The trick is not to look back and keep your aim true,” said Razik Mushtaq. He had trouble believing that he had been chosen for national football camp in Lahore.

Razik’s dream to become a national footballer and represent the country made him persevere in the sport despite setbacks. Once a member of Azad Foundation’s Street Child World Cup squad, Razik felt exploited by the NGO later on.

“We did make some name in the Street Child World Cup 2014, we went to Brazil, but this is the real deal, at the national camp, actually playing proper football and not the amateur kind, this is much more difficult,” said Razik who has been playing for Sui Southern Gas Company for the last nine months.

He is looking to change the way he plays football and impress the new Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) head coach Brazil’s Jose Antonio Nogueira at the camp, who needs to make the best team for Asian Games and South Asian Football Federation Championship.

“This is the first time, I’m going to the national camp, all I ever wanted was to play football professionally, and this is just a start. In Mauripur every child wants to be a footballer, I was no different, but now my dream of representing Pakistan internationally seems attainable, it’s the best I’ve achieved so far,” said Razik.

Razik cannot believe that he will be playing among national stars like Saddam Hussain and Kaleemullah.

Razik will be joining the national camp which has 59 players on the list on May 24.

The 2014 Street Child World Cup squad were supported by Leisure Leagues who would pay them monthly income for being the ambassadors for the league.

Lauding Leisure Leagues, former coach for the team, Rashid Baloch said:  “Razik, Aurangzeb, Sameer, our goalkeeper, we all were contacted by Leisure Leagues, and that helped, because at least we started to get some income, before that we were barely surviving.”

However, things seem to be taking a turn for the better; “But now it’s all coming together, while Razik has a chance to prove himself in the national camp, we are still waiting for better things to come our way.”

Both Baloch and Razik hope that the 2018 Street Child World Cup finalist team sent by Muslim Hands Pakistan, will receive better treatment than they did.

“We were the firsts to go to that tournament, and the Sindh government never fulfilled their promise of getting us a stadium and jobs, I went to one of the minsters myself, and I was told off, I hope the new team that reached final of the tournament get better treatment than that,” concluded Baloch.

Published in The Express Tribune, 25 May 2018