Owen keen to help Pakistan develop its football [The News]

Owen keen to help Pakistan develop its football [The News]

KARACHI: Former English football striker Michael Owen has said that he would be happy if his experience is going to help Pakistan develop its football.

“I would like it if my experience is going to help Pakistan football in the years to come,” Owen said while answering a question from this correspondent during a news conference here on Wednesday.

He was here to inaugurate an ambitious project of Karachi Soccer City, a joint venture of the Global Soccer Ventures (GSV) and NED University Karachi.

“As I mentioned there are so many different aspects of football which will need to be developed if the game is to develop overall. From the top, there is the Pakistan national team, youth players, coaches, facilities and children. We have to work on bringing improvement in coaching. There are several different ways we can improve,” said the 42-year-old Owen, a former Liverpool and Newcastle United player who played in three FIFA World Cups for England.

“I think this investment and initiative from GSV will help improve football in Pakistan,” said Owen who arrived in Pakistan only on Tuesday and has not yet seen any talent here.

“I will be in a position to make that comparison in future. With 220 million people in the country with so many of those people being young I am sure there will be talent. I am looking forward to see what talent Pakistan has. Regardless of that we will produce footballers for the future,” Owen said when asked how he would compare Pakistan football with that of India and Sri Lanka.

He was very impressed with the hospitality of Pakistani people during his short stay.

“This is my first visit to Pakistan and everybody is so hospitable,” Owen said.

“The passion of the young Pakistani footballers has no bounds. I am thrilled to be a part of Pakistan’s historic football transformation programme as I look forward to taking football to a whole new level,” Owen said.

Also were present NED University Vice-Chancellor Sarosh Hashmat Lodhi, GSV chairman Yasir Mahmood, GSV CEO Zabe Khan, GSV COO Mike Farnan, St Patrick’s Athletic FC chairman Garrett Kelleher and former Pakistan captain Saddam Hussain.

Later the ground-breaking ceremony of the stadium at the NED University was held.

The state of the art stadium to be built on the UEFA standard is designed by a German engineering firm which is to develop a series of football infrastructure projects in Pakistan.

This world-class football facility will feature an international standard academy to promote football in Pakistan. After inaugurating the landmark project, Owen also managed a few kicks on goal.

Owen also interacted with the university students and passed on helpful football tips.

“Building this state of the art stadium in the University is a great pleasure,” NED University Vice-Chancellor Sarosh Hashmat said. “This will let the students and football players of the city explore the much-awaited opportunities. International interest in grooming our young talent is a great opportunity for our youth. We are delighted to have international star Michael Owen be a part of this life-changing vision. We hope this stadium will make international football stars,” he added.

Meanwhile, St Patrick’s Athletic coaching panel is in Pakistan, holding a nationwide coaching and Kamyab Jawan Football talent hunt programme that is being held from January 17 to February 5. This will conclude with up to 20 players being given the opportunity of travelling to Dublin to train and play with the Academy and potentially First Team of St Patrick’s Athletic. The final trials will be held in Karachi in the first week of next month. Top 20 players will be picked from across Pakistan who will travel to Ireland to train with Athletic FC.

Published in The News, 27 January 2022