Baloch Mujahid Ramzan Night Football Tournament lives on, without sponsors [Express Tribune]

Baloch Mujahid Ramzan Night Football Tournament lives on, without sponsors [Express Tribune]

by Natasha Raheel

KARACHI:With the end of Ramzan this year, Karachi’s most active and oldest football club further strengthened it legacy.

“Baloch Mujahid FC was formed the day Pakistan People’s Party was formed,” said Mehran Baloch, the youngster who is a part of the Baloch Mujahid FC family, although he doesn’t play football anymore because of the massive talent with in the club that competes for its place in the team, but he is in the organising position for the tournaments.

If anything, the Baloch Mujahid Ramzan Night Football Tournament in Ibrahim Hyderi, Korangi, was the main attraction in the landscape of how sports are played and watched during the holy month of Ramzan in Karachi.

The final took place on May 31 with home team losing on penalties 4-3 to Lyari’s Phool Patti Star FC while both teams were 1-1 at full-time.

The tournament was featuring 29 top clubs of the city on knock-out basis as the event lasted for a month, and that too, on a budget of less than Rs700,000 but the crowd that would show up to watch these matches at support the teams from their localities would exceed more than 7000, for the club’s capacity in their home stadium is that of 2000 people in two sets of stands.

But the crowd would find space for themselves on the roofs of the surrounding buildings, bus-tops, walls of the boundary to the mouth of the field as the players would take on the ground for their matches.

Each night of the Ramzan tournament the spectator would show up, and according to Mehran and Ahmed, the youngsters spear-heading the matters of organisation of the event, would proudly say that it is an achievement on its own.

“The defeat does not feel bad at all,” said Mehran. “It is the best game for us because our club played well throughout the tournament, in the final we were good as well, but losing is a part of the game.

Just to see that we managed to hold this huge crowd and entertain people without any mishap is a win as well, the trophy was meant for a winner, but we feel like winners too. And Lyari’s clubs are tough competitors. We won because at the end of the day we gave people the sport they love the most.”

Football is not only a way to entertain but a way to prove one self, and with this fourth edition of the tournament Baloch Mujahid FC is looking for better opportunities.

“We’ve held more than 100 tournaments, but the irony is despite the staggering number of crowds and the teams showing up we still don’t  get any corporate sponsors, we don’t know why they don’t come here,” said Ahmed.

“We try to take our proposals to different companies but maybe the tournament is not proof enough, we don’t have those contacts maybe. But they should see how much we love football, the people in thousands of numbers that come here love to see football. Any sponsor will benefit.”

The Ibrahim Hyderi Community is that of labour class and fishermen while even the footballers competing at the matches are at best departmental players or labourers in their daily lives who play football in the hopes of fulfilling their dreams of becoming a professional one day.

Despite no money or even support for the participating teams the winner of the tournament took away Rs50,000, while the runner-up bagged Rs30,000.

“This is all on self-help basis. The floodlights cost us, the generator cost us, there are so many things tin the stadium too that every member of our club contributes, even if it means that we have to clean our pitch on our own, fix the lights, anything at all. We couldn’t support the participating teams either with kits or anything, but these clubs come and play here, in fact many clubs had to be left behind because we didn’t have the place, but next year we’ll try to do better,” explained Mehran.

Meanwhile, Baloch Mujahid FC is also looking for an upcoming event with 100 clubs from Karachi, but the fate depends on the sponsors.

Published in The Express Tribune, 4 June 2019