by Natasha Raheel
KARACHI: The Pakistan women’s football team began their training camp on Thursday as they are preparing to participate in the South Asian Football (Saff) Championship from September 6 in Kathmandu, Nepal.
The Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) Normalisation Committee (NC) issued a list of more than 60 players who were chosen after close observation from the Women’s National Championship 2021 and prior, while trials were held in Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore in which almost 70 girls turned up to showcase their talent.
The PFF NC formed a team of coaches and they are being guided by Pakistan’s only Asian Football Confederation certified professional coach Shahzad Anwer as the consultant, while Qibtia Jamshaid is the administrative manager for the camp.
The camp is taking place in Lahore with 35 women who were shortlisted by the team of coaches and consultant Anwar.
Saff Championship will be Pakistan women team’s first international event in more than eight years. They last competed in the third edition of the same championship back in 2014, which took place in Islamabad.
Pakistan women’s football had been badly affected by the unstable status of the PFF due to in-fighting among officials to stay in the office and the consequent bans by FIFA in 2017 and then in 2021 due to third-party interference.
The last suspension was lifted in June and the PFF NC decided to field the men’s and women’s teams in the international events this year, as the players have already lost their precious time due to power politics.
The FIFA-appointed NC came into power in Pakistan in September 2019, but that too saw major opposition from Syed Ashfaq Hussain Shah’s group, who was elected as the PFF president after the elections that were ordered by the Supreme Court in December 2018.
Last year, Shah and his set of officials illegally took over the PFF house from the PFF NC head Haroon Malik, forced him out of the building and took over the PFF accounts as well.
FIFA suspended Pakistan in April 2021 after giving several warnings to Shah’s group but Shah forced himself as the president and also negatively affected the on-going national women’s championship in March 2021. The event eventually got cancelled that left many women footballers feeling frustrated and furious as the uncertainty loomed over their careers.