KARACHI: Some 32 young footballers between the ages of 10 and 18 from all over Pakistan can look forward to training by Manchester United players and coaches, including Sir Alex Ferguson, thanks to an arrangement between the world-famous professional football club and a mobile telecom company here.
“Seeing the popularity of football among youngsters in Pakistan, Zong has entered into a three-year contract with Manchester United. It is hoped that this one of a kind partnership will lead to prosperity, growth and triumph for the sport here,” said the company’s Director Advertising and Promotions Rizwan Akhter at a press conference called to announce the union at a local hotel here on Tuesday.
Unveiling the benefits of the contract, Rizwan Akhter said: “From next year, we will hold country-wide trials to pick 32 best footballers in the 10 to 18 age group for training by the club’s players and coaches.”
The partnership gives Pakistan rights to exclusive news and footage of the English clubs activities in order to bring the 150,000 Manchester United fans here closer to the club and their favourite players.
“The move will go a long way in promoting football in Pakistan and inspiring more young players to take up the sport here,” explained the company’s representative.
“It will also allow us here to look more closely at the club’s way of working and their formats in order to take out and follow the positive things from there to help improve the infrastructure here,” he added.
“Though we are focusing on the grassroots level for now, it is hoped that along with the inspiration gained from learning more about the famous English club with such an interesting history will come improvement in football grounds and academies here,” pointed out the gentleman.
Meanwhile, to a question about the possibility of Manchester United players or coaches visiting Pakistan, the organisers said that the present security situation prevents that from happening until things improved here.
United welcome Zong
Manchester United has signed a three-year partnership with Zong, one of Pakistan’s leading mobile telecoms companies.
The deal will give the club’s estimated 10million fans in Pakistan a chance to see all the goals scored, as well as exclusive interviews, news and behind-the-scenes access from Old Trafford, bringing them closer to United than ever before.
Reds commercial director Richard Arnold welcomed Zong and said he felt the company would be a “great partner” for United in Pakistan.
“It is a relatively young company but has ambitions to be one of the major players in the country,” Arnold said. “Partnering with United will give them high visibility, as well as helping the club to communicate directly with millions of our supporters there.
“Using our digital assets to engage our global fanbase is an increasingly-important part of our commercial strategy and we are very excited about the possibilities presented by this partnership.”
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson admitted he uses his mobile phone on a daily basis to keep up-to-date with football news and results and joined Arnold in welcoming Zong into the United family.
“The way the club uses modern technology to reach our millions of fans around the world is outstanding. Zong will be a key player in allowing us to bring the passion and excitement of Manchester United to our fans in Pakistan.”
Zong’s director of advertising and promotions, Rizwan Akhter, described the partnership as unique and anticipates a bright future for all concerned.
“This partnership is one-of-a-kind coming from Pakistan and the initiative that Zong has taken to team up with a giant like Manchester United will only lead to prosperity, growth and triumph. For all the glory that is to come, we stand united, to take on all opportunities and victories together as one. Today, we play for the same team!”
Zong chief financial officer Feng Tuixian added: “We see ourselves as an integral part of peoples’ lives, providing support to over 12million subscribers. We help them in their business or at work, bringing friends and families closer together, providing quality moments of leisure and recreation while remaining at the cutting-edge of technology.
“We share Manchester United’s commitment to be the best among competitors. I am sure this is the start of something very big indeed.”
More: Zong official website