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Star-studded: India’s futsal league amazes Pakistan [Express Tribune]

Star-studded: India’s futsal league amazes Pakistan [Express Tribune]

by Natasha Raheel

KARACHI: While India is hosting its first Premier Futsal League featuring global superstars such as Ronaldinho, Ryan Giggs, Cafu and Paul Scholes, Pakistani players and coaches can’t help but cast envious looks in the direction of their arch-nemesis.

Pakistan midfielder Saadullah, for instance, is of the opinion that India will benefit greatly from the five-a side format, which he claims has largely been ignored on our side of the border.

“This could do wonders for India and other regional leagues, and Pakistan can learn from it too,” Saadullah told The Express Tribune.“Unfortunately, we don’t have any activity here because of the federation issues, but, smaller clubs can take heed.”

Emphasising on futsal’s importance, the 22-year-old continued, “It’s necessary to work on futsal and football together because the world’s best players all started with the former before making a name in the latter. Moreover, with such big names coming to India, the South Asian leagues will get more competitive. Only Pakistan and Nepal are lagging behind.”

The former BG Sports player also talked about Ronaldinho’s sublime, five-goal performance for Goa in the aforementioned tournament.“I watched Ronaldinho’s performance and I was ecstatic, but that’s as close as we can get to these big players,” said Saadullah.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Football Federation Technical Director Shahzad Anwar lamented how Pakistan’s football ecosystem never made room for futsal despite his efforts for local clubs and departments to create separate five-a-side teams.

“There’s this traditional mind-set in our football community that one needs to play 11-a-side, full team football to learn. What they don’t know is that futsal is more accessible, and a better format to perfect the technique and hone the skills of the players,” explained Anwar. “I floated the idea to the clubs but no one cared — not one iota.”

Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st, 2016.

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