Football in Pakistan

There is a famous saying: where there’s a will, there is a way, and we’re hopeful that we will rise. Football in Pakistan has been a story that has had its fair share of highs and lows. We have succeeded and failed, but we have never been despondent. Currently, Pakistan is the fifth most populous country in the world, but Pakistan’s national football team is 194th in the FIFA men’s football teams ranking. Yes, it is a global sport, but it has faced a steep decline in Pakistan. The journey, as we speak, has been a tough one. Pakistan’s team was banned by FIFA twice, in 2017 and 2021, respectively. This was a huge setback as if the plug were pulled on an ailing patient. But, in the recent past, there has been a great development, and it seems that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Pakistan has produced some really fine footballers and if we continue with our efforts, it is only an uphill ride from here.

Pakistan And FIFA

Pakistan in its history has never qualified for the FIFA World Cup and its relations with the federation have been a tad bit unstable. Pakistan has been banned by FIFA twice, once in 2017 and the second time in 2021. But there have been continuous efforts to restore the Pakistan team’s status and they have been fruitful.

Famous Pakistani footballers

Pakistan has never been short in talent; the country has always produced brilliant athletes and sportsmen irrespective of the sport. Similar has been the case with football, Pakistan has produced some of the most talented Asian players in the history of the game including some noteworthy individuals such as,

  • Hassan Bashir
  • Zesh Ahmad
  • Kaleem Ullah khan
  • Adnan Ahmad
  • Atif Bashir

These individuals have represented Pakistan at both national and international levels. 

Club Football in Pakistan

There is a craze for cricket among the youth, it’s as if it runs in their blood. Although not as popular as cricket, football has been a growing sport in the country. It has played an important role in the sports sector. It is a misconception that Pakistan is miles away from a good football club infrastructure, but it is wrong. There are a number of football clubs operating throughout Pakistan. Amongst them some of the famous clubs are, 

  • Kohat young Rising Star W.F.C.
  • Cantt United F.C
  • Garrison Football Academy
  • Ghazi F.C
  • Rose F.C Lahore
  • Karachi United
  • Gilgit F.C
  • Pakistan United F.C
  • Gilgit F.C
  • Pakistan steel F.C

These are some of the noteworthy clubs that have played on national and international levels. In addition, there are many more clubs that have been operating throughout the country, impressing and encouraging the youth with their brilliant football skills.

Lyari; The mini-Brazil

Lyari is a densely populated area based in the southern port of Karachi. It’s a place with narrow streets, unpaved roads, and an undying passion for football and is also called the mini-Brazil of Pakistan. You’ll find children kicking the football with unparalleled passion and zeal wherever you go. Every empty plot is a mini football stadium; young Lyari boys have been praised by football legends such as Ronaldinho, Nicolas Anelka, Ryan Giggs, Robert Pires, and George Boateng during their 2017 tour to Karachi. One international player called Lyari “the hotbed of talent for football”. This place is teeming with life; by life, I mean football. There is tons of potential and ambition in the young boys of this crowded neighborhood. Once they find the right direction, they will be unstoppable.

Football amongst the youth

The popularity of football among the youth has always been excellent. There is a huge fan base and fan following of international football clubs such as Manchester United, Real Madrid, and F.C Barcelona. And then there are global sporting icons, full of charisma and style. Ronaldo and Messi. The youth goes berserk whenever there’s a football debate. What’s important is that this indirectly also encourages the youth to play football. In some parts of the country, football is more popular than cricket, and the youth are incredibly skilled and talented. Many neighborhoods in Pakistan are famous because of the football played there. On top of the list is Lyari, followed by Pindi and some parts of Lahore.

Street Child football World Cup 2022

The fourth edition of the street child World Cup 2022 was organized in Doha. A total of 28 teams participated in this 11 days long event. The Pakistani team also participated in the event and did something unprecedented. They won seven out of seven group matches and qualified for the final after knocking out all their opponents. This victory streak was a massive achievement for the team. The young Pakistani squad played the final of the street child world cup against Egypt, in which they lost on penalties by 4-3. Although the young team was heartbroken, qualifying for the final while competing against world-class teams was an enormous achievement. Pakistan’s young gun, the 16-year-old Zubair Shinwari, outclassed all the other players throughout the tournament and scored 13 goals, including two back-to-back hat tricks against Qatar and Bosnia. He was also awarded the man of the tournament.

The future of football in Pakistan

Pakistan football federation has struggled in the past, but there have been amendments, and better is expected of them. Their recent efforts have been appreciable, to say the least. The bans imposed by FIFA and the political instability in the football federation have done lots of collateral damage. Still, for every dawn, there’s a sunrise, and sincere efforts have been made toward this sport. One thing that must be made clear is that Pakistan has a huge football potential. There has been a national talent hunt in the country followed by a plan of flagship football city in Karachi, all under the umbrella of PM Imran Khan’s kamyab jawan sports drive program. The English footballer Michael James Oven has supervised this. These trials have been conducted in 10 major cities across the country. A lot of good is expected to come out of this venture..

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