by Faizan Lakhani
KARACHI: As football fans in Pakistan are gearing up to host the FIFA World Cup trophy in Pakistan on Saturday, the country’s current football captain Kaleemullah has termed the trophy’s arrival as an exciting moment in the history of Pakistan football.
The FIFA World Cup trophy, currently on its world tour, will arrive in Pakistan on February 3 when a special Coke-FIFA chartered aircraft will land with the trophy in Lahore.
Kaleemullah said that this is a historic moment for everyone related to football in Pakistan and an exciting step for the entire country.
“Although the greatest pleasure would be to see Pakistan’s national team qualifying to play in the FIFA World Cup, till we get to that stage, it is truly amazing to see the trophy coming to Pakistan,” Kaleem said in an exclusive chat.
“I am glad that big companies are stepping forward and supporting football. There is a lot of interest among fans in Pakistan and the trophy coming to Pakistan will be a very special moment for all of them. Hopefully, initiatives like this will propel the sport within Pakistan,” he added.
The trophy will be put on public display in Lahore on Saturday evening.
“The whole world will be watching us on the February 3. Events like this are crucial for bolstering the budding talent in our country. This will surely hearten many football enthusiasts and young, aspiring players who want to play football in future,” said Kaleem, who’s also known as Pakistan’s Messi.
“The Trophy Tour is definitely a big achievement for the nation. This will put Pakistan on the map as far as international football is concerned. It will also portray the true image of Pakistan which the world needs to know,” he added.
He added that there’s a lot more needed to be done to promote football and suggested that a PSL type initiative is needed for football to prosper in the country.
“To develop football at the grassroots level, it is important for there to be an administrative and technical organisation at national, regional and local levels, we need sports infrastructure and facilities, including coaching and equipment, and most of all, we need links between the member association and government ministries,” he suggested.
“We’ve done a wonderful job of promoting cricket with Pakistan Super League, and I’m certain we can initiate a football tournament on the same lines as the franchise-based cricket league,” he said.