by Azhar Khan
LAHORE – Vision Pak president Fahad Khan has revealed that Club Athletico Penarol, the biggest club of South America, will be coming to Pakistan April next year to play a three-match Under-16 Football Friendship Series against Pak XI FC in Pakistan.
Talking to The Nation, Fahad, who will also be the organising secretary for this series, said: “This will be a game changer event for Pakistan football. In these turbulent times after the FIFA suspension, an event of this magnitude would be a first step for revival for our football and also a ray of hope for Pakistan football fans, who are craving for an international event. We will create a festive environment and also run a full-fledged marketing campaign to engage national talent and the football fans. This will prove to be a route into the South American football for our footballers in the coming future.
“We are already running our digital media campaign, which has impressed our counterparts in Uruguay very much. We will also be holding our launching press conference for this event on January 2 next year. We will take our stakeholders in confidence and try to make this event a huge success,” he added.
Fahad said the Club Athletico Penarol president along with other club high-ups will soon be sending a special message to football fans in Pakistan. There are many surprises for Pak football lovers that will be unleashed soon, which include our international ambassadors for the event and our special guests, who will be especially coming to Pakistan for this event, which includes officials from Uruguay federation, Bolivian federations and senior sports journalists from Uruguay and Brazil.
“The primary idea is create a bridge between Pakistan football and the greatest footballing nations in the world, which would, in return, not only lead to development of our football players, coaches and referees but also let the world know that our beautiful country is safe for such events, where the international community can safely travel and that our people love football,” he added.
To a query regarding government’s support for this event, Fahad said: “As for government, it’s imperative for them to understand that no sport can grow without their support in countries like ours. As of now, many government personnel have contacted us and also grasped the idea that this will be one of its kind event and will encompass youth nationally through our marketing campaign and also through our national talent hunt but to be honest it’s been more talk than walk as of now.
“We are looking for them to take concrete supportive actions which till date have practically been none whatsoever. In any case, this is a test case for people like me, who want to strengthen our relations with international community, play part in reforming image of the country and also provide a route into South American football for our talent and we will have to support such events as a nation to make a stronger statement. Let’s see how the government of the day plays its role to support this endeavour in the coming days,” he added.
When asked about corporate sector support for this biggest cause, he said: “Well, I’m in touch with majority of corporate companies. In the first step, I have pitched the core idea to them but now I am in the final stage of deliberations with most of them. I already have three partners for the event including Information Process Solutions, a digital media company, Leisure Club as affiliate partners and Latitude CRS, as official PR partners. I am very hopeful that in the next couple of week, we will close our title sponsor, kit sponsor and official sponsor for the event.
“Generally speaking, our market is more inclined towards cricket but what they need to understand is that the market in cricket is now saturated, whereas the football target market is also huge and is untapped so the early birds, who can grasp this market, will reap it’s reward in the times to come as football is the next big thing in Pakistan,” Fahad concluded.