KARACHI: The names of the 20 fortunate footballers for training in Ireland on Tuesday were unveiled during a news conference here at the KPT Stadium
The footballers were selected after days of hectic trials under a panel of qualified coaches from Europe. UEFA-accredited trainers, including Karel Fraeye and Dennis Ricardo from Belgium, and Marc Antonio from the United Kingdom were part of the GSV NexGen soccer trials. Former Pakistan captain Mohammad Essa was also part of the scouting panel. The final 20 have been picked by Brain Kerr, the former senior international manager for the Republic of Ireland and Faroe Islands.
Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on youth affairs Usman Dar and Global Soccer Ventures (GSV) CEO Zabe Khan were present on the occasion.
The selected players will tour Ireland to undergo training with the St Patrick’s Athletic FC for several weeks whose actual programme is being planned by the GSV.
“This soil has produced the best of talents the world has ever seen, and these young men are going to be another testament to it. We are grateful to GSV for awarding our youth with such an auspicious opportunity to prove their skills and change the direction of their future. I congratulate the finalists from the depth of my heart and bid them good luck for their journey ahead,” Sindh Governor Imran Ismail said.
The exciting GSV NexGen soccer trials were successfully conducted in ten major cities including Islamabad, Muzaffarabad, Peshawar, Sialkot, Multan, Sukkur, Quetta, Faisalabad, Lahore and Karachi.
The 20 players selected for Ireland’s tour include Zain-ul-Abideen, Tauqeer-ul-Hassan (both Faisalabad), Asadullah, Hamza Munir (both Lahore), Shayek Dost, Junaid Ahmed, Khalil Ali Jan, Mudassir Nazar (all Quetta), Naseer Ahmed, Ahsan Ullah, Zeeshan Ali, Nabi Bux and Mohib Ullah (all Karachi), Usman Ali, Mohammad Saddam, Mohammad Taha (all Islamabad), Alamgir Ghazi, Umar Farooq Khan, Mohammad Harris Faiz (all Peshawar).
Apart from the 20 finalists, an 11-year-old footballer Hamza Yasir who portrayed an unmatchable talent and skill in the game was also selected as an additional member. Although he was under the age limit, the talent of the boy left an impression on the selectors and now will be playing in Ireland with the 20 players.
Hamza was elated for being selected in the group and told ‘The News’ that he was playing at the TWK club in Lahore. “For the last three years I have worked so much and am very happy that I have got this opportunity of undergoing training in Ireland,” he said.
Usman Dar said GSV NexGen Soccer trials have been a fine catalyst in the Prime Minister’s Kamyab Jawan Sports Drive.
“An amazing show of talent and passion has been witnessed throughout the talent hunt, and we have successfully unearthed priceless gems, who are ready to claim their worth. Road to Europe grants them a life changing career opportunity and hope for football in Pakistan,” Dar said.
Brian Kerr, Honorary Director of Football St Patricks Athletic and the longest serving St Patrick’s Athletic Manager and former Ireland manager at Under-16, 18, 20 and Senior level said GSV has bridged the gap between resources and the players.
“This has been a marvelous feature of this initiative. Bonding with these lively players reminded me of my early days in the game. We have been grateful for discovering a young football prodigy on this soil as well, and can’t wait for him to showcase his skills in the near future,” Kerr said.
The selected players will be travelling to Dublin, Ireland and will be welcomed by the St Patrick’s Athletic’s team Garrett Kelleher, Chairman, Ger O’Brien, Director, Brian Kerr Honorary Director, Johnny McDonnell – Strategic Advisor and Jamie Moore – Assistant Academy Director and Head of Media. The squad will continue to train and play with the Academy and potentially the First Team of St Patrick’s Athletic under the supervision of St Patrick’s UEFA licensed coaches.
Around 5000 pounds expenses will come on each footballer. The final 20-member lot was picked among around 8000 boys.