Filling a void [TNS]

Filling a void [TNS]

by Alam Zeb Safi

Ufone is doing the job which should have been done by the football associations. The company’s staff, headed by energetic Amir Pasha, concluded its 2021 football campaign, holding super events in both Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.Around 140 teams took part in the two legs.

It means that every talented player was part of the journey in both the provinces. Chaman’s Muslim Club won Balochistan leg while Chitral emerged as the champions of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa leg by beating DFA Mardan 1-0 in a pulsating final.

Then Chitral and Muslim Club faced each other in a super final which was won by Chitral 2-0 at the Tehmas Khan Stadium in Peshawar on December 12.

I got the chance to witness a few matches of the KP leg in Peshawar. It moved me a lot when I saw the charged crowd, backing the players on each and every rally. It was like an international game environment. A thick crowd witnessed the shows under floodlights at the iconic Tehmas Khan Stadium, located at the sports hub which also includes Arbab Niaz Stadium, FIFA Football House and Gymkhana.

Unlike in the previous season, the organisation was superb. The teams were provided daily allowances, kits and accommodation.

The biggest thing is that Ufone has undertaken the task to keep the players engaged at a time when football has suffered massively because of the infighting among various factions.

The company also faced huge problems in holding the event in Balochistan where one faction did not leave any stone unturned to create hurdles in the way of Ufone.

But Ufone staff remained steadfast, got stays vacated and ensured a smooth holding of the event. Ufone staff’s professionalism is laudable. When they felt that Chitral and DFA Mardan were going to play successive matches and they would need more energy, they were provided with extra food.

The organisers also arranged a luncheon for the KP leg champions Chitral at the PC Hotel before going for the super final against Muslim Club who were fresh but had left out three key players by giving chance to youngsters. I have rarely seen such a solid meet.

Mardan, the KP leg runners-up, showed resolve and their talent was impressive. Waziristan Combined, who lost the semi-final to Chitral, had highly talented players in their ranks. Their coordination, passes’ quality and creation of attacks, and counter-attacks really impressed me. But surely, they lacked experience. This belt is very fertile in football and in future the PFF will have to focus on it.

Ufone chief Human Resource Syed Mazhar Hussain, who graced the final of the KP leg, told me that they would make every effort to broaden the outreach of the event.

It has been learnt that slowly the event will be taken to the national level. However, it is yet premature and the organisers will sit and debate this matter before taking any decision.

The company should engage top stuff for handling the technical issues of the event. They should engage top referees in future which is very important for ensuring successful holding of the event.

There is immense following of the sport in the country and it was evident from the thick attendance at the Tehmas Khan Stadium. And so was the case with the Balochistan leg.

After Chitral won the final against Mardan, Chitral DC congratulated the champions via a tweet. However, he did not announce any cash award for the conquerors. Both our private and government sectors should realise that our players need financial support. Without that, we can’t motivate youth.

Chitral’s captain and discarded international striker Mohammad Rasool appreciated Ufone’s effort.

“No one can do what is being done by Ufone. It’s excellent. They treat footballers like professionals and it’s a good sign. We are thankful to the company for its services for football,” Rasool told ‘The News on Sunday’.

“It will be great if Ufone in the next season makes it compulsory that at least two under-19 players will be played by every team. It will further help the youth and more talented youngsters will get a solid platform to showcase their talent,” Rasool said.

Published in The News on Sunday, 19 December 2021