Saturday, January 31, 2015

Renewed hopes for the football-loving Lyari

By Natasha Raheel

February 1, 2015

Azad Baloch FC owner Jihand Shaukat Ali said that the tournament is a blessing for the youth in Lyari. PHOTO: EXPRESS

KARACHI: The football-loving youth of Lyari have reason to hope as the Sindh government initiated efforts to revive no less than 32 clubs in the football-savvy locality of Karachi.

The Sindh Sports Board has organised the Lyari Inter-Club Football Tournament at the Kakri Ground that will go on for a week. The purpose of the event is evident; to revive the old clubs that were disbanded due to the law-and-order situation in Lyari.

Azad Baloch FC owner Jihand Shaukat Ali said that the tournament is a blessing for the youth in Lyari.
“It’s like a new life for us,” Jihand told The Express Tribune. “My club wasn’t playing in local tournaments for the last 10 years because most of our players had either left, and at other times, the law-and-order situation would worsen for us, especially in Kalakot.

“We couldn’t continue, but this tournament has given us a new lease on the field not just for my club but for 31 other clubs too.”

Defender Anees Ahmed said that the tournament has given hope to players in the area.

“The football field is our home, it’s our refuge from drugs and other bad things that we see every day in Lyari,” said Ahmed. “Football keeps us away from getting involved in illegal or wrong activities. This tournament and preparing for it for the past few months was all we had.”

Azad Baloch FC lost their pre-quarterfinal match 3-1 to Karachi City FC – featuring players from Cheel Chowk and Usmanabad area –on penalties yesterday.

“We feel like winners despite the loss because the purpose for us is to survive and keep our players motivated to continue playing,” said Jihand.

Local coach Ghulam Hussain Baloch added that even a local tournament in Lyari is very competitive and normally gets decided on penalty-kicks.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 1st, 2015.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/830830/renewed-hopes-for-the-football-loving-lyari/

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