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...

#Russia to use #Pakistan-made #footballs in 2018 world cup. #FIFAWorldCup #soccer #FIFA18

When millions of football lovers cheer on their favourite teams at the 2018 FIFA World Cup to be held in Russia this summer, Pakistanis will have a special reason to rejoice, although the 198th-ranked football nation will not be participating in the mega event.

Pakistan's famous footballs will be used in the World Cup matches, making over 200 million Pakistanis feel their presence in the event.

Russian Ambassador to Pakistan Alexey Dedov confirmed earlier in the week that his country was going to use Pakistan-made footballs for the World Cup matches.

Located on the outskirts of northeastern Sialkot city, workers at a local sports company - which is a contracting manufacturer of global sports brand Adidas - are working extra hours to ensure on-time delivery of the footballs.

The city, which borders India, has been famous for producing finest quality sports goods and has been supplying footballs for mega events for a long time.

Forward Sports, which also makes footballs for the German Bundesliga, France Ligue 1 and the Champions League, was also the official football provider of 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

"This is an honour for us, that we are going to provide footballs for the world cup once again. We are very excited to meet this challenge," Khawaja Masood, the chairman of the company, told Anadolu Agency.

Refusing to give the exact numbers of footballs the company is going to supply for the World Cup alone due to restrictions from Adidas, Khawaja said his firm produced a total of 700,000 footballs a month.

The football that will be used in the upcoming tournament is technically termed as thermo bonded, which was first introduced in the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Before that, Pakistan had supplied hand stitched football for almost all the World Cups from the 1990s to 2010.

Other types of footballs produced in Sialkot are glued balls and hand stitched balls.

Thermo bonded balls are made by attaching the panels through heat - the latest technology adopted by Adidas and transferred to Forward Sports in 2013.

"Although Pakistan football team will not be participating in the forthcoming World Cup, its presence will be felt in all the matches [because of the balls]," Khawaja told Anadolu Agency.

According to Husnain Cheema, president of the Pakistan Sports Goods Association, the country will export around 10 million footballs across the world this year.


Local manufacturers observe that the country’s sports goods industry has a potential to triple the existing earnings from exports.

"We are going to introduce football kits and other accessories apart from exporting footballs," Ijaz Khokhar, head of Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association, told Anadolu Agency.

He said his association had a plan to set up a technical training institute in Sialkot to create trained manpower for production of other accessories, which could earn much more for Pakistan compared with exports of footballs and other sports goods.

"Huge football production business is being transferred from China to Pakistan because of the quality we are providing to the world," Khokhar said, adding that Pakistan had to makes use of this opportunity.

Iqbal defended Khokhar's view saying China was producing machine-stitched footballs, which were only used as "toys".

"These footballs cannot be used in professional matches. Our quality standards are way better than China's football production," he said.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan storm into Street Child #Football World Cup 2018 final

Pakistan have qualified for the final of the Street Child World Cup 2018 in Russia, making history as they beat Indonesia in a nail-biting semi-final on Monday.

The boys in green outclassed Indonesia 5-4 on penalties to secure their place in the final, where they will face Uzbekistan for the trophy.

Team Pakistan, funded and supported by Muslim Hands, looked in good form since the start of the semi-final, and didn’t let their Indonesian counterparts score.

The match remained a goal-less draw when the final whistle blew. In penalty shoot-outs, both the teams managed to score four goals each. But in additional penalties, Indonesia missed the target after conceding a goal to Pakistan.

Captain Mohammad Abdullah is confident his players would put up a good show in the final as well.

“We are happy that we have qualified for the final. Insha’Allah we will keep Pakistan’s flag high in the final as well,” Abdullah told from Moscow.

“The boys are highly motivated,” he added.

Abdur Rasheed, head coach of Muslim Hands Pakistan Street Child team, told that the team would give its best to bring the gift of the trophy home.

“I request everyone in Pakistan to pray for our success,” Rasheed said. “Insha’Allah, if the boys play according to their abilities then we will gift victory to the nation.”

Earlier in the tournament, Pakistan played a goal-less equaliser against Uzbekistan in the first match, then defeated Russia 3-1 and Tajikistan 2-0 on way to the semi-final.
The Street Child World Cup is traditionally held in the host country of the World Cup a month before to highlight the global social issue of youth homelessness.

Since its launch in South Africa in 2010, the tournament has travelled to Brazil and now to Russia, where there are some 55,000 registered orphans, according to official statistics.

The tournament’s stars are orphans, who were either abandoned by their parents or come from extreme poverty.

The participants are 230 boys and girls from 21 countries aged 14 to 17.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistani woman of #African ancestry makes history as the first Sheedi elected to #SindhAssembly. #Pakistan #PakistanElection2018

Among many firsts that have recently been introduced in the country’s parliamentary politics — many of them are credited to the Pakistan Peoples Party — Tanzeela Qambrani is another soothing addition to the list for being the first Sindhi Sheedi woman to be part of the provincial legislature.

In Sindh’s society where its inhabitants with ancestry entrenched in Africa are still being discriminated against in various forms and manifestation, Tanzeela is no exception. She received her own share of prejudice from the society dominated by feudal class.

A postgraduate in computer science from the University of Sindh, Tanzeela, 39, is the first Sheedi who has returned to the Sindh Assembly on the PPP’s quota of reserved seats for women.

“This is a bold step (getting a Sheedi elected to Sindh Assembly) that required courage which no one but the son of Benazir Bhutto could do and he did it,” said Tanzeela, a mother of three, while speaking to Dawn.

It was not the first time that her party had tried to give her an elevated elected post. The PPP had nominated her to head the municipal committee in Matli in Badin district, which, “some influential people also from the PPP could not digest”.

An influential PPP member went against the party’s discipline and competed for the chairman’s post as an independent member. He got some other members on his back and got elected. The party challenged his election, but the election commission upheld it.

Tanzeela has the name which has great similarity with the country from where her great-grandparents had been brought to the southern coastline of Sindh.

“My father told us that his grandparents had been brought to Sindh now around a century ago from Tanzania,” she said.

“That’s why,” she said, “one of my sisters is married of in Tanzania”.

“Before this day,” said Tanzeela choked with emotions, “we, the Sheedi community, still were on the unending stairs of a ship. Today, it seems we have found the land after centuries of ordeal”.

With black complexion, big nose, curly hair and thick lips, Tanzeela would wear jeans and headscarf and “many of students would consider me as a Sudanese” and not many of them would pass pleasant comment about her in Sindhi.

She, however, said despite prejudices not everyone she came across outside the Sheedi community was a foe.

“Many kind souls came across me and they helped a great deal and the greatest example of it is our chairman Bilawal Bhutto,” she said.

Tanzeela’s father was a lawyer and mother got retired as a school headmistress.

“But, Mohammad Siddique Musafir, a great Sindhi Sheedi writer and teacher, was the real hero who taught many of us to live respectably.”

Riaz Haq said...

BBC News - #Pakistan's first lawmaker of #African descent raises hopes for #Sidi community. Sidis descended from #slaves brought to #India from East #Africa by #Portuguese. Their ancestors were also soldiers, traders, pearl divers, #Muslim pilgrims.

Pakistan is set to have its first ever lawmaker of African descent, raising the profile of a small and mostly poor community that has been in the region for centuries.

Tanzeela Qambrani, 39, was nominated by the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, to a women's reserved seat in the regional parliament of southern Sindh province.

She hopes her nomination after last month's election will help wash away the stigma attached to the Sidi community, the local name for the ethnic African population concentrated in the coastal regions of Makran and Sindh.

"As a tiny minority lost in the midst of local populations, we have struggled to preserve our African roots and cultural expression, but I look forward to the day when the name Sidi will evoke respect, not contempt," Ms Qambrani, whose ancestors came from Tanzania, told the BBC.

Many Sidis are believed to be descended from slaves brought to India from East Africa by the Portuguese. Historians say their ancestors were also soldiers, traders, pearl divers and Muslim pilgrims.

They enjoyed senior positions during the Mughal empire but faced discrimination under British colonial rule.

Estimates put their population in Pakistan in the tens of thousands. They are well-integrated but keep alive some traditions, including an annual festival that blends Islamic mysticism, crocodiles and singing in a blend of Swahili and a local language called Baluchi.

Sidi communities also live in the Indian states of Karnataka, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.

The Sidis dominate the Lyari district of Karachi and have been staunch supporters of the PPP, now chaired by Benazir Bhutto's son, Bilawal Zardari Bhutto.

However, no Sidi had ever made it to parliament until Mr Bhutto Zardari nominated Ms Qambrani for the reserved seat.

"Just as Columbus discovered America, Bilawal has discovered Sidis," said Ms Qambrani, whose great-grandparents came to Sindh from Tanzania.

The PPP came third in the recent general election, which was won by former cricketer Imran Khan's PTI party. However the PPP again won the most seats in the Sindh provincial assembly.

Can Imran Khan change Pakistan?
Ms Qambrani, a computer science postgraduate with three children, hails from the coastal area of Badin. Her father, Abdul Bari, was a lawyer while her mother is a retired school teacher.

Her family has kept its African connections alive; one of her sisters was married in Tanzania, while another has a husband from Ghana.

"When my sister married a Ghanaian husband, local youths and guests from Ghana put on such a show in our neighbourhood," she said.

"They danced those typical Sidi steps to the Mogo drumbeat which they say comes from Ghana but which we've traditionally played in our homes. You couldn't tell a Sidi dancer apart from an African."

Riaz Haq said...

#Spain's #Football League's #AtleticoMadrid's #Pakistan Academy: Spanish giants seek raw talent viewership. #Atletico aim to have players in Pakistan's national youth teams in 3 to 5 years, and also hope to have Pakistani players playing for them one day.

In bright winter sunshine, young trainees are focused on football drills.

From the sidelines, Spanish coaches encourage them. Shouts of "bueno" (good) and "mas" (more) can be heard.

But this football academy - established as part of a landmark agreement with Atletico Madrid - is more than 4,000 miles away from Spain, in Lahore, Pakistan.

Hammad Zia, a 12-year-old forward with raw talent and an eye for goal, is among those taking part. Two years ago he was the first child enrolled at the academy.

Facebook recently bought the rights to show all 380 La Liga matches free to air to users in India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Pakistan - a potential audience of 348 million users

Among the other young trainees are Subhan, a 16-year-old left-winger, 15-year-old forward Waris, and 10-year-old midfielder Fizza, who is one of the best girl trainees at the academy.

So why have the 10-time Spanish champions become the first La Liga club to open an academy in Pakistan?

The story of Hammad - and his friends - offers some answers.

Hammad, who admires Lionel Messi and Paul Pogba, is so impressed with his training that when he returns home he shares his new skills with his four-year-old brother Luqman.

"It's going very well. I play as a forward and my training is going very well. We're learning basic skills - they're teaching it all," he says.

Looking on with pride is his father Zia Ur-Rehman. A Lahore policeman, he recognised his son's talent early on.

"When I was a child, I wanted to be a footballer, but there was no support from my parents," he says.

Lahore's Summatus Sports Academy is being rebranded as the Atletico De Madrid Academia in Pakistan
"That passion I had remained inside me; it didn't die. When my son was born, that footballing desire returned for him.

"I initially took him for swimming lessons, thinking he might turn out to be the next Michael Phelps, but after a couple of visits, I saw that he didn't enjoy it.

"He had already been playing at a club, and a coach saw him and asked 'Why don't you enrol him at a coaching school? We won't make him a footballer - he is one already!'"

Thus Hammad became the first pupil enrolled at Lahore's Summatus Sports Academy, which will be officially rebranded as the Atletico De Madrid Academia in January.

"From birth, I have one kidney," says his father. "I can be up and down because of this, but Hammad's football gives me great joy.

"Our wish is that Hammad gets selected to play in Spain and also represents Pakistan."

Atletico aim to have players in Pakistan's national youth teams in three to five years, and also hope to have Pakistani players playing for them one day.

The initiative was dreamt up by Lahore businessmen Muhammad Atta Tanseer and his cousin Omer Sheikh, both passionate football fans who wanted to raise the level of footballing talent in Pakistan and the profile of the game in the country.

They made initial overtures to Atletico's city rivals Real Madrid, but the plan never got off the ground, and they say they were even "laughed out of meetings" - although they were shown around the club to meet then head coach Zinedine Zidane and his players.

At Atletico they also faced initial scepticism, but over several visits to the country Atletico were impressed with what they saw.

Atta Tanseer and Sheikh's Summatus Sports firm, which already has over 100 children in its training system, would be the parent company, with everything else branded in the Atletico name. Academies in Islamabad and Karachi are expected to follow.

Riaz Haq said...

New PFF technical director Limones to create #footballing identity for #Pakistan.The Spaniard was introduced by the Pakistan #Football Federation (PFF) Normalization Committee as its new technical director, a job he likened to working on a ‘blank canvas’.

He might have been associated with Atletico Madrid for the last several years but Daniel Limones’ coaching philosophy is less Cholismo and more Tiki-Taka.

The Spaniard was on Wednesday unveiled by the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) Normalisation Committee as its new technical director, a job he likened to working on a ‘blank canvas’.

For more than half of the last decade, Pakistan football has been marred by crisis and controversy. It led to FIFA appointing a Normalisation Committee to oversee the affairs of the PFF last year, the mandate of which expires in December. Limones’ contract too is till then.

A head coach at several teams in the women’s first division in Spain at the start of his career before joining Spanish giants Atletico where he worked in different capacities, Limones has six months to show what he’s about and, maybe, earn an extension when the freshly elected PFF set up comes in.

Good thing for Limones, who has been in Lahore for the last two years as the head coach of Atletico Madrid Academia, is that he doesn’t have big shoes to fill with Pakistan never having had someone as qualified as him or rather someone who did wonders in that role.

Add to the fact that the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has brought sports to a halt in the country, Limones can set up a blueprint for the country to play the game whenever football eventually resumes.

“The aim is to promote a national identity in football,” Limones told reporters during a virtual news conference on Wednesday after his appointment was announced. “And make sure that the players identify with that idea.”

That idea will have some of Cholismo but more of Tiki-Taka.

Cholismo was introduced to Atletico by their talismanic coach Diego Simeone, whose arrival at the club in December 2011 transformed the club from also-rans to one of Spain’s best alongside Real Madrid and Barcelona.

After knocking out defending champions Liverpool out of the Champions League in March this year, Simeone claimed Cholismo meant ‘playing to win’, a style that involves detailed tactical organisation most notably in defence with players willing run and fight aggressively to launch quick counterattacks.

It’s not as pleasing to the eye as Barca’s signature Tiki-Taka, a style of play characterised by short passing and movement with a focus on keeping possession, but maybe Pakistan teams across all levels could learn a thing of two from Cholismo with leaky defences having caused much heartache over the last several decades.

“The first team [at Atletico] played a certain style but it isn’t what is preached at the academy,” said Limones when asked whether Cholismo was something he was looking to introduce as a blueprint for national teams to play in his role as technical director.

“I’m more for keeping possession, making passes and I see a system in which we can make the players more safe in both attacking and defensive transitions,” added Limones, a UEFA Pro-License holder who joined Atletico as a methodology supervisor for its age-group teams in 2016 before becoming their sports complex coordinator.

Since September 2018, Limones has been in Pakistan as the coach and manager at the Atletico Academy. In that role, he’s had a look at local talent and the football system that exists in the country.

“We have liquid gold [that we need to solidify] in terms of talent,” he said. “We have to start on grassroots and bringing in kids to play football and grow up with an understanding of the game.

Riaz Haq said...

Black Lives Matter – for Pakistan's Sheedi community too

Pakistan has the largest African immigrant population in all of South Asia, known as the Sheedi community.

• The Sheedis continue to face colourism, racism and prejudice from mainstream Pakistani society.

• The South Asian community has a collective responsibility to educate ourselves about anti-Black racism in our countries, and how we have benefited both from systematic oppression of Black people and their efforts to overturn it.

Despite being the largest African immigrant population in South Asia, Sheedis – as they are known – in Pakistan face restrictions to social, economic and political progress. This community was initially brought to the country as slaves between the first and 20th centuries, and entered the subcontinent through the ports of Sindh and Balochistan in present-day Pakistan, where many remain as dock workers, domestic workers, carpenters and blacksmiths.

As they assimilated into local life, many lost their languages and traditions, with several Sheedis deliberately marrying outside of the community. In Pakistani culture and among its diaspora (including in the United States), the very term Sheedi has come to be used as a derogatory term. Many see it as a form of bullying, something that has kept the Sheedi community from progressing, and a public backlash is beginning to build.

Levels of poverty, illiteracy and crime among the Sheedi are higher than in other ethnic groups in Pakistan. In Karachi, the majority of Sheedis are confined to Lyari, a city slum known for drugs, gangs and struggling education systems.

Sheedi have been historically under-represented in Pakistani government. The groundbreaking election of the first Black Pakistani to parliament in 2018, Tanzeela Qambrani, was marred by dissent, including the resignation of a fellow party member. Qambrani is vocally outspoken on the discrimination against Sheedi people in Pakistan. In March 2019 she pushed through a resolution that penalized educators who displayed racist behaviour towards Sheedi students. She is also leading a protest resolution in the provincial assembly against anti-Black racism in the US, in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.

Many grassroots efforts in Pakistan are similarly campaigning to safeguard the heritage and culture of Sheedis in Pakistan. The most prominent festival of the Sheedi calendar, known as the “Sheedi Mela”, was recently restored after a seven-year hiatus, signaling a major breakthrough towards government recognition of the significance of Sheedi heritage in the country.

“Colourism” has been linked to the marginalization of the Sheedi in South Asia. The colonial-era preference for fair skin is disappearing from Pakistani culture, but it can still be seen in the success of the skin-whitening industry and inclusion of whiteness as a criteria in marriage proposals.

Pakistani people in the US: the 'model minority'
There are clearly parallels between the mistreatment of Black Americans and Pakistani Sheedis. American society is no stranger to bias against minorities, and is seeing the result of that bias in barriers to access to capital and educational funding for minorities, as well as discrimination in hiring and lack of political representation.

The Pakistani diaspora in the US must acknowledging that Black people fought for the very civil rights that allow Pakistani-American communities to exist. After all, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 allowed the majority of Pakistanis currently living in the US into the country in the first place, by eliminating restrictive immigration quotas and allowing family-based immigration. As the Black Lives Matter movement continues to grow globally, it is critical for us to support it and acknowledge the contributions of Black Americans that enabled Pakistani and South Asian success in the US.

Riaz Haq said...

The Sheedi are a community of African-Pakistanis whose history to the region is not known for certain. Many were brought over by Arab traders as slaves as far back as the 8th century, while others claim a strong Islamic connection through the Prophet Mohammed. Centuries later the thriving community of over 250,000, are still not accepted as locals in their native Pakistan.

“So, you are a Pakistani?”, a question not uncommon for Abdul Hafiz Kasqali, a fire juggler or ‘jungli’ and folk dancer (specifically the lewa).

Kasqali, 38, has been dancing at both public and private events since the age of 16. Born and raised in Karachi, the largest metropolis of Pakistan, he grew up amongst the constant questions into his origins, forcing him to believe that he might not belong to this region.

Riaz Haq said...

The official match-ball for the FIFA World Cup 2022, named, ‘Al Rihla’ was unveiled by FIFA recently. Made in Pakistan, Al-Rihla is manufactured by the second largest sports manufacturer in the world, Adidas. Pakistan has been the official makers of the official match-ball since the 1982 FIFA World Cup. However, Pakistan did not provide the footballs for the 2010 and 2014 World Cup.

‘Al Rihla’ translates as ‘the journey’ in Arabic and according to Adidas, it incorporates the architecture, iconic boats, and the flag of the host nation, Qatar. The match-ball was launched by former World Cup winners, Iker Casillas and Kaka in a glittering ceremony in Doha, Qatar.