FORMER Tottenham great Graham Roberts arrived in Pakistan today as he prepares to take charge of the side at November’s Asian Games in China.
The 51-year-old will officially be unveiled as technical and coaching consultant of Pakistan’s under-23 side tomorrow in a deal made possible by the sponsorship of Spedition Services Ltd (SSL) and TKC Restaurant.
Coinciding with Pakistan Football Federation’s (PFF) appointment of London-based company TouchSky Sports to devise a football developmental strategy, Roberts’ appointment marks the dawn of an exciting new era for Pakistani football as they prepare to play their first competitive game at senior or Olympic level since December last year.
Roberts made his name as a player at Spurs, who won the 1984 UEFA Cup with the defender scoring in the final against Belgians R.S.C. Anderlecht, while he also won six caps for England.
The UEFA A and B Licensed coach has coached Yeovil Town (England) and Clyde (Scotland) and said he accepted the Pakistan job because he was genuinely excited by the country’s football future.
Pakistan has been drawn in Group F of the Asian Games alongside Thailand, Maldives and Oman, which pits Roberts against former England teammate and current Thai coach Bryan Robson (ex-Manchester United captain).
“It’s not very often you get an international job thrown at you and I’m very excited,’’ said Roberts, Pakistan’s technical and coaching consultant.
“I’ve seen some of the Pakistani players play and they’ve got a good future, they’re a good bunch of lads who just need a bit of organising.
“The Asian Games are a fantastic opportunity for us and our main goal will be coming out of the competition with our heads held high, but I think we can advance from our group.
“Thailand and Oman in particular will be tough opponents but I’ll do my homework and watch games and find out ways of beating them.’’
The Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) is hoping Roberts and his side can help lift the nation’s spirits at the Asian Games following July’s floods in which 1.9 million homes were destroyed, left 21 million injured or homeless and left around 2000 deceased.
TouchSky Sports – a London sports and media company with a strong presence in Europe, South America and Africa – facilitated the deal on behalf of PFF, which marks the commencement of a long-term partnership.
Faisal thanked founder Clem Leech and director Ahmer Kunwar for their initiative and co-ordination with PFF’s marketing department, led by marketing director Sardar Naveed Haider Khan.
“We are fortunate to have such high profile personality working with our players for two months and through his presence our AID-27 coaches will also learn a lot,’’ said PFF president Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat.
“If all goes well with Graham then we can negotiate a long term contract with him to help us as a coach.’’
TouchSky Sports director Ahmer Kunwar was delighted with Roberts’ appointment and was confident it would be the birth of a successful long-term relationship.
“The aim is to raise the profile of Pakistani football and this integrates with our long-term strategy of developing professional footballers,’’ said Kunwar.
“We are also determined to build bridges between Pakistan and the UK and Graham will play a major role.’’
Butch Fazal, chairman of the national Asians in football forum and member of the FA’s race equality advisory group, has liaised with TouchSky Sports throughout and said it may open doors to British players of Pakistani heritage.
“It’s a positive move in the right direction for Asian football and for Pakistan where there’s an awful lot going on,’’ said Fazal.
“Football may seem a bit diverse in Pakistan but I think it can really take off given the right people in the right places and Graham’s appointment will give it a shot in the arm.’’
SSL’s Yasmin Fazal said competing in the Asian Games marked a proud moment for the Pakistani community all over the world.
“SSL are delighted to be sponsoring Graham Roberts in his quest to raise the standard of football in Pakistan and wish him and the entire team the best of luck at the Asian Games,’’ said Fazal.
“SSL has two primary objectives, one is our social responsibility towards the community and two, to address the issue of the under representation of Asians within the game in England, if we were fortunate enough to have some success in China it will create positive role models and inspire the Asian community to greater participation to the National game here in England.’’
TKC Restaurant’s Dalawar Chaudhry said he was honoured to be associated with the resurgence of Pakistani football.
“It’s not the easiest time to find sponsors and people are at an all-time low with Pakistan for obvious reasons so it’s important to lift the mood and morale of the people,’’ he said.
“And getting a high calibre individual such as Graham Roberts on board sends the right messages to everyone in Pakistan and Pakistanis all over the world.’’
Over 40 years’ experience offering excellent home cooking at affordable prices without compromising on quality. Banquet and conference facilities include several meeting rooms and a main banquet hall with a capacity of 10-to-200.
Spedition Services Ltd (SSL)
Specialise in providing multi/intermodal Logistics Solutions to/from Russia and the CIS countries. Working with some of the world’s best known brands, they are recognised as experts in their field. A strong and committed team of people in five strategic countries ensure they stay ahead of the game. Offering continuous improvement with particular focus on sustainability, route development, optimisation and environmentally friendly solutions, this passionate and dedicated company is a partner for life.
16th Asian Games in Guangzhou, China (12-27 November, 2010)
Group F: Thailand, Maldives, Oman, Pakistan
#Note: Asian Games is an under-23 tournament comprising of 16 teams
GRAHAM ROBERTS PROFILE
1995-98 Yeovil Town
1978-79 Dorchester Town
1990-92 West Brom
1994-95 Stevenage Borough
1995-98 Yeovil Town
1998-99 Slough Town
1984 England B (1 cap)
1983-84 England (6 caps)
1981, 1982 FA Cup
1984 UEFA Cup
1986-87 Scottish title
For press enquiries and further information contact:
Ahmer Kunwar – Director TouchSky Sports firstname.lastname@example.org
+44 (0)7919 848 065