Sunday, 28 August 2011

State of Football in Pakistan

Football is the most-widely played sport in the world.Pakistani people are far behind other people both in matter of playing playing and watching football. Pakistan's national football team is ranked 163rd in the FIFA ranking while on population basis, Pakistan is ranked 7th in the world. Football is not taken seriously by most people as cricket is deeply ingrained in our culture and our blood. Hardly anybody knows about major football leagues in the world or the names of famous players in those leagues. Many People get interested in football only during world cup season and afterwards the fever diminishes. A football league does exist in Pakistan(Pakistan Premier League) but it is not well supported and most people don't even know this fact. Demographically, most players in the national team and the league teams come from Southern parts of Pakistan(Karachi,Gwadar,Quetta) and northern parts, with exception of Lahore and Faisalabad are not equally represented. Schools and Colleges do have football teams and competitions but there are no proper academies or infrastructure to develop young and talented players into world class footballers. There is also shortage of grounds for the teams to practice and play. In big cities, there are local clubs that provide opportunities for people who can spend time and money to play football. As far as support for international clubs is concerned, most fans belong to the upper middle class or upper class(mummy daddy type) who support clubs from English Premier League or Spanish La Liga.These lads can be seen wearing replica shirts in markets or they decorate their cars with their favorite club's merchandise. However,there are fans from middle class or lower middle class who watch the game just because they love it and understand it. They don't require fancy shirts or stickers or hand bands or mufflers to tell anybody that they support a particular football club.There is also the issue of very few pakistani players at international level. Recently Mehreen Khan wrote an article the football section of Guardian regrading the low number of British Asian players in upper echelons of british football(http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2010/sep/24/british-asians-premier-league-football).Alot needs to be done to rectify the situation and government interest in development of football will do much good. FIFA has provided the national federation with funds and support but they still need to do more in this regard. So that Pakistan can be able to participate in international competitions within next 10-15 years.
A notable mention must be made of efforts of the website FPDC(footballpakistan.com) who have been working for the last many years to provide latest news and coverage regarding Pakistani Football. 
P.S:- This article was written last year, since then Pakistan has competed with Palestine, Bangladesh at senior level and our under-16 team has won the inaugural South Asian Championship. 

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