Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Die-hard Pakistani Football Fans Support Brazilian Soccer Team in World Cup 2014

Pakistan-made Brazuca soccer ball is believed to have started high football fever in cricket-crazy Pakistan. The most fanatic among Pakistani soccer fans are the Sheedis of the Karachi slum of Lyari. Since Pakistani football team does not qualify to play in the World Cup, the sheedis' favorites are the Brazilians with whom they have much in common. Sheedis, like many Brazilians, are part of the worldwide African diaspora created by the slave trade.

Lyari Football Club
Who are Sheedis?

Sheedis are thought to be the descendants of African slaves brought to the shores of Pakistan at the height of the international slave trade that started in the 7th century and continued into the 18th century.

Also known as Siddis in other parts of South Asia, they are believed to have arrived in India in 628 AD at the Bharuch port. Several others followed with the first Arab invasions of Sindh in 712 AD. The latter group are believed to have been soldiers with Muhammad bin Qasim's Arab army, and were called Zanjis. Siddis are related to the Bantu peoples of Southeast Africa. They were brought to the Indian subcontinent as slaves by the Portuguese.

The Sheedis of Pakistan, also known as Makranis, live primarily along the Makran Coast in Balochistan, and southern part of Sindh. In Karachi, they are mainly concentrated in Lyari. Pir Mangho is revered by Sheedis as their patron saint. Sheedis have an annual celebration in Manghopir area around the shrine of their patron saint.

Soccer Fever in Lyari:

People bring big screen television sets and projectors into the streets to watch Brazilian team play against their opponents at dozens of spots in Lyari . Others head to a nearby sports complex for a screening, where hundreds of adults and kids arrive toting mats and picnic baskets, according to a PRI Radio report. Here's a excerpt from it:

"Almost everyone here supports the Brazilian team, and residents proudly point out that the neighborhood has been labeled “mini-Brazil" thanks to its fervor. “God willing, Brazil will win today and it will keep on winning," says one boy sitting on the ground surrounded by his friends. Other boys express their admiration for their hero, Neymar, a star Brazilian forward. Karachi's roots in soccer go back to the days of the British Empire. As one of British India's key seaports in the early twentieth century, many ships carrying European sailors would dock here. In their free time, visiting sailors played soccer near the harbor and would invite locals to join them. “This became a tradition — that whenever sailors came, these people used to go there and play with them,” says Nadir Shah Adil, a veteran journalist from Lyari. While much of Pakistan took on the British game of cricket, says Adil, people in Lyari chose soccer. It wasn't just because of the European sailors, though. Soccer was also a much more affordable sport for poor Lyari residents."

Street Child Football Championship:

Earlier this year, Pakistan's football team made up of mainly Lyari kids surprised the world by winning third place in the Street Child World Cup held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The team drew special praise for crushing arch-rival India 13-0 at the Rio tournament.

Pakistanis scored 2-0 win against Kenya and a 3-0 triumph against Mauritius before drawing 1-1 with the US team to reach the top in their group. In the quarter-finals, they defeated the Phillipines 3-2 but lost to Burundi 3-4 in the semi-finals. They played US again for third-place match and won 3-2 on penalty kicks to clinch the bronze medal in the seven-a-side tournament.

Hope For Lyari:

Lyari is a place known mainly for its poverty, drugs, violence and gang warfare that have ravaged the area for decades. Lyari gangsters with names like Baba Ladla, Rehman Dakait, Uzair Baloch and Arshad Pappu make more headlines than the neighborhood's sports talent in boxing, football and other sports.

Recent success in the Rio Street Child Football World Cup and now the Soccer World Cup 2014 fever represent an opportunity for the government and the civil society to offer Lyari youngsters an alternative to the life of drugs, violence and gangs. Let's hope that they will seize this opportunity.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Science of Pakistan-Made Brazuca 

Gangs of Karachi

Johnson-Ali Model of Success in Olympics

Commonwealth Games 2010

Geo Sports Ban 

IPL Mixes Business, Sports and Entertainment

Pak Cricket Needs Top Batting Coach and Sports Psychologist


Khalid K. said...

Thanks for educating me about Sheedis/ Makranis. Though I come from Quetta Pakistan and had quite a few Makranis working with me and had friends from Makran also but never had the time and reason for going into their historical background. Today I stand educated Thanks for increasing my knowledge.
I watched the video of manufacturing of this amazing football and was impressed by the interview of the company CEO. He seemed very knowledgeable and broad minded to have significant number of women workers. Amazing, despite the fact that his beard indicated in the opposite direction.
Kindly keep up finding good things about my beloved Pakistan.
Many Thanks

Riaz Haq said...

Street kids from Lyari doing it again in Norway Football Cup...making Pakistan proud!!

Pakistan's street children team thrashed Batnfjord-Reinsfjell FC 6-0 in the Norway Cup Under-16 boys' competition in Oslo's Ekeberg field on Monday. In their second match of the competition, Abdul Raziq scored the opening goal, followed by H Aslam and Rahul Talha. Naveed, Aurangzeb and Ayaz Anwar struck the remaining goals. The Pakistan team are now leading Group 2 of Division B in the tournament with six points and have qualified for the next round.
Earlier, Pakistan's Street Child World Cup bronze-medal winning team made an impressive start when they defeated local club Lambertseter 1-0 in their first match on Sunday. The squad are sponsored by the Azad Foundation. The Norwegian-Pakistani community invited the Pakistan team. Norway Cup is the world's biggest youth football tournament, attracting more than 1500 teams each year in different boys and girls events in the Under-12 to Under-19 competitions. The Pakistan's Street Children World Cup squad in Rio de Janeiro were a seven-member team; however, in the Norway Cup, Pakistan are competing in a full 11-a-side tournament. Pakistan's last group match will take place on July 29 (Tuesday) against Finnsnes IL Fotball.

Riaz Haq said...

MELBOURNE: Pakistan lifted the 'Dosti Cup' after defeating India 101-7 in a friendly-match of Australian Football on Saturday, the Press Trust of India reported.

The first-ever meeting of Australian Football League (AFL) teams of both countries was one of the highlights of the 2014 International Cup.

All Pakistani team players were Melbourne based whereas India flew in a team of 15 AFL players to play five matches.

Dignitaries from both country's consulates and leaders of both communities were invited to witness the match.

This was the first time Pakistani team had participated, while India had participated in previous years as well.

The scoreboard ran as follows:

Qtr Time - Pakistan 3.6 (24) led India 0.0 (0)

Half Time - Pakistan 9.7 (61) led India 0.1 (1)

Three Qtr Time - Pakistan 11.13 (79) led India 0.1 (1)

Final - Pakistan 14.17 (101) defeated India 1.1 (7)

Riaz Haq said...

BANGALORE: Pakistan pulled off a surprise 2-0 win over India Wednesday, with a late goal from Saddam Hussain ensuring them a share of the spoils in the first football series between the arch rivals for almost a decade.

Pakistan's captain Kaleemullah put his side ahead in the 38th minute and a scrambled shot by Hussain in the 89th minute silenced the 5,000 Indian spectators at the Bangalore Football Stadium.

The home fans had been hoping for more of the same after India won the first match on Sunday 1-0, at the start of the first series between the South Asian neighbours since India toured Pakistan in 2005.

India suspended all sporting ties with Pakistan following the deadly 2008 attacks on Mumbai. However the two countries have played each other in a variety of sports in the last few years, including cricket.

India came close to opening the scoring when a dipping long-range effort by skipper Sunil Chhetri was palmed away by Pakistan's goalkeeper Muzamil Husain.

Chhetri set up debutant Haokip Thonhkosiem to score in the 37th minute, only to see his attempt saved by Husain. Francis Fernandes then squandered a golden opportunity to score off the rebound.

A minute later Pakistan went ahead when Kaleemullah swept home a free kick after being brought down by Indian midfielder Lalrindika Ralte just outside the box.

India swarmed forward in the second half in an increasingly desperate bid to find an equaliser but could not breach a determined Pakistani defence.

Their hopes were finally extinguished when Hussain poked the ball home after a solo run into the Indian penalty box.

The players hugged and shook hands on the final whistle before the Pakistani team took a victory lap, waving their national flag.

The teams are next set to compete in the Asian Games starting in South Korea next month.

India are 150th in FIFA's world rankings while Pakistan languish further down in 164th spot.

Riaz Haq said...

#Karachi #Christian girl footballer kicking down barriers in #Pakistan @AJENews …

According to Juma, Thomas has pushed the door open for other Christian girls make a career in sport.
And despite her age, Thomas is not only aware of her feat, but also her responsibility.
“How long will I keep serving as an example for kids to take up sports in a country where minorities don’t even get basic security, let alone equal opportunity in all fields?
"How long are the people of the Christian or Hindu or Sikh communities going to motivate and encourage their younger generations to represent Pakistan if this is how they will see the minorities being treated here?
“Pakistan must progress and it will only progress if it shows love and sincerity to all religions, races and ethnicities.”

Riaz Haq said...

Can Soccer Bring Gender Equality to #Pakistan? #Karachi FC has both men's and women's divisions

KARACHI, Pakistan — Every Pakistani boy, it seems, has dreamed of becoming a star in one of the country’s national sports: cricket, field hockey or squash. But access to sports, like so many other things here, has historically rested on class, gender and privilege; the poorest are denied the same opportunities as the rich, and girls have been left out all but completely.

The Karachi United Football Foundation, however, believes that football — the kind Americans call soccer — can bring ethnic, sectarian and gender diversity to Pakistani sports. By promoting the game at the grass roots, the foundation is investing in football not just as a sport, but as a democratizer.

Sports have always mirrored politics in South Asia. The British introduced football in the 19th century; it thrived in the Bengal region, where enthusiastic local players competed barefoot against British military teams. Elsewhere on the Subcontinent, however, cricket eclipsed football; Indian cricketers, whose political ambitions revolved around independence, were more eager to beat the British at their own game.

Pakistan’s interest in football began at the time of the country’s formation: The Pakistan Football Federation was created in 1947, and Pakistan joined the Fédération Internationale de Football Association in 1948. The game became extremely popular in the provinces of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in the western part of Pakistan, but drew most of its players from the former Bengali state, from which East Pakistan had been created.

In the 1960s, a golden age for sports in Pakistan, cricket, squash and field hockey were taught at elite schools like Aitchison College in Lahore, where the scions of reputable families could become sporting icons, backed by financial support and social connections. With foreign tours came international acclaim, and cricket’s popularity skyrocketed.

Meanwhile, football was finding popularity in the less affluent streets of Quetta, Karachi and Dhaka. Karachi’s slums, with their large populations of Sheedis and Makranis — many of them descendants of slaves from Africa who had settled in Sindh and Balochistan — held passionate matches in which players were barefoot, cementing the game’s reputation as a “poor man’s sport,” according to the journalist Ali Ahsan in the newspaper Dawn.

Soon Pakistan’s national team was playing Iran, Iraq and Sri Lanka. Pakistan even faced Israel in the 1960 Asian Cup qualifiers, but the severing of diplomatic relations in 1967 prevented any repeat match.

Then, in 1971, came East Pakistan’s independence as Bangladesh, costing Pakistan the most valuable players for its national and international teams. With the nation as well as the teams struggling to recover, only large corporations and institutions like the army, railroads or the Water and Power Development Authority could afford to hire footballers to form company teams.


Football in Pakistan has many challenges to overcome, including scant media attention, and a dearth of money and corporate sponsorship. Pakistan also lacks a strong regular organization to supervise football properly on a national level.

Yet with Sacramento Republic Football Club’s signing of Kaleemullah Khan, who captains the men’s national team, to be the first Pakistani football player for an American club, and the Pakistani women’s team captain, Hajra Khan, trying out for three Bundesliga clubs in Germany this summer, it’s obvious that football talent exists in Pakistan. And that there is reason to believe the Beautiful Game can do something beautiful for Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

BBC News - BBC Pop Up: Blacks in #India face racism and #bigotry everywhere in #Indian society. #BJP #Modi

What is it like being black in India?
That's what BBC Pop Up wanted to find out after Benjamin Pratt, a student from Sierra Leone now living in India, told us that many African immigrants are victims of racism and prejudice.
BBC journalists Christian Parkinson and Vikas Pandey joined Benjamin on the streets of Delhi to find out more but ended up in a small village in the western state of Gujarat.
There they discovered a surprising and little-known culture alive and well.

Riaz Haq said...

Soldier Bazaar in diverse #Karachi, #Pakistan. #Christian #Hindu #Muslim #Parsee #Muhajir #Punjabi #Gujarati #Sindhi

Soldier bazaar, near Jamshed Town in the Garden East area of Karachi, houses a beautiful, diverse society where people with all sorts of backgrounds coexist and support each other.

The majority is Muslim, but mixed in them are Hindus, Christians and people belonging to all sorts of ethnicities – Punjabi, Kashmiri, Sindhi, Muhajir, Balochi, Parsi, Memon, Gujarati and others.

As a street photographer and story writer, I had long wished to observe Soldier Bazaar and its community firsthand. Finally, this June, I got the chance.

It was a hot day, and we were on our city tour with the 'I am Karachi' team to explore the city's landmarks. As we entered the Soldier Bazaar area, it became fairly clear that this was a low-income area, and the market was full of second hand material.

During our discussion with the locals there, Faheem, a chicken shop owner told us, "There is no mobile snatching and robbery in Soldier Bazaar. You are free to roam on the streets at whatever time of the day, no one will dare loot or even touch you. This is one of Karachi's most peaceful societies."

It was noon and our team was buzzing with excitement to document this fantastic bazaar. We roamed the streets freely, cameras in our hands, with shopkeeper and pedestrian warmly welcoming us and happily telling us about their lives in the area.

I decided to start from a sugarcane juice stall, which is the most preferred summer drink in the locality.

On the right side of the road, beside the stall of the sugarcane juice, is a big building where we sat sipping the sweet beverage, wondering how old this building was. That is when some people sitting at the floor of the building called us and introduced us to the owner.

It turned out that the building was owned by one Imtiaz Khan, who was the only son of Bahadur Khan, who worked for the British in 1929, selling grass to earn a living.

Imtiaz is still living his life peacefully in Soldier Bazaar, seemingly unaffected by all the change around him. For him, if things are bad in the country today; they will be better tomorrow.

Riaz Haq said...

World #soccer stars Ronaldinho, Giggs in #Pakistan for #football exhibition matches via @usatoday

Ronaldinho and Ryan Giggs were among soccer stars to arrive in Pakistan on Saturday to play exhibition matches which organizers hope will boost the sport in the country.

Dutchman George Boateng, former France players Robert Pires and Nicolas Anelka, former England goalkeeper David James and Portugal's Luis Boa Morte flew in via private jet to the capital Islamabad.

Pakistan Army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa hosted a reception, saying "sports promote peace," before players flew out to Karachi for the first seven-a-side exhibition match later Saturday amid heavy security.

The tour has been organized by a private company, World Group, aiming to promote football in Pakistan, which is No. 200 out of 211 in FIFA rankings.

Lahore will host the second exhibition match on Sunday.

Pakistan has not hosted a major foreign team in any sports since an attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team's bus in Lahore in 2009.

"For us it's a big moment," Pakistan football captain Kaleemullah said. "We didn't ever dream that such big stars will come to Pakistan. I grew up watching Ronaldinho on television and I still can't believe it, he's in Pakistan."

The 37-year-old Ronaldinho said in a statement he was "excited at the prospect of playing in Pakistan."

Cricket is the major sport in Pakistan, but English Premier League, La Liga and Bundesliga soccer have attracted a growing following among younger fans.

Tickets were priced from 2,000 to 30,000 rupees ($280) with 1,000 free tickets for young people in Karachi.

Manchester United has a large following in Pakistan.

"Pakistani fans have not seen (international) players. This is a great opportunity to see footballers live and in their home country," former United great Giggs told Geo Television in Dubai before flying in a private jet to Pakistan.

Back in Karachi, young fans had started arriving at the stadium — heavily guarded by army soldiers — hours before the match. The stadium was decorated with giant-sized billboards of the foreign players.

Television footage showed the players escorted by armed soldiers in a convoy as they left Quaid-e-Azam International Airport.