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Football for All [Newsline]

Football for All [Newsline]

by Sameer Haseeb Khan

In 2014, a handful of Karachi teenagers decided to give back to their community by hosting a series of futsal tournaments for Karachi’s youth. The young entrepeneurs, only 15 at the time, founded Total Futsal: a charity organisation that raises money through the management of these tournaments, and donates the proceedings to a worthy cause.

The founders included Sharjeel Javed, Moiz Zaki, Tihami Shah and Sameer Khan who’ve demonstrated immense skill in co-ordinating each event to run smoothly, with little room for oversight. The most recent follow-up took place over the course of the last week, from the 12th to the 16th of July.

Total Futsal I took place in the summer of 2014, with few sponsors and only about a hundred attendees. The tournament has since grown over time, with this year’s Total Futsal V raising a total of Rs 360,000.

Co-founder Sharjeel’s sudden move to Lahore in 2015 didn’t deter the group, but instead prompted them to expand their operations across the country. Tourneys were held simultaneously in Lahore and Karachi under the direction of the same organisation.

This year’s event was run by the initial panel of founders, who each invested a gruelling amount of hours each day; an 8-hour schedule had each crew member switching shifts between different responsibilities in order to cater to the 64 participating teams. Players hailed from various areas of Karachi, such as Baldia Town and Gulshan districts.

An entry fee of Rs 2000 was charged per team to encourage participation, with a grand prize of Rs 40,000 to be awarded to the winners. Donations collected from sponsors (that included Engro, Wingitt, Bounce, the Ocean Mall and 42DC) and other sources came to Rs 3.6 lakhs, to be donated to The Citizens Foundation and facilitate the education of a classroom of underprivileged children for up to a year.

2017’s championship was awarded to Dropouts FC, with the team’s Usman Sheikh taking the ‘Most Valuable Player’ award. “Our aim is to use public resources to make football more accessible to all, while trying to provide education, free of cost, to the city’s youth,” said Moiz Zaki in a statement to Newsline.

The teens are currently studying at Karachi Grammar School, and hope to expand the venture in the coming years. Plans to link the Lahore and Karachi contests next year are still in development, but for now they’re happy with what they’ve achieved.

Published in Newsline Magazine, 18 July 2017

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