Football has always been my first love. It has provided me entertainment, relaxation and thrill for as long as I can remember. My early memories of football date back to admiring the legends Paolo Maldini and Roberto Carlos. During the last 12 years or so, I’ve enjoyed supporting Manchester United and the Italian and Japanese country teams.
For others football is about showcasing their talent and surpassing the rest. For me football is different. I am not athletically build and never had any decent talent. Even though I realized this during school, my passion for football never decreased.
My shortcomings as a player lead me to embrace football in a different manner. From 2006 to 2008, I formed few teams of my localities and arranged various matches and couple of tournaments to help the younger and more talented children from my area to play in grounds like National Coaching Center, Rahat Stadium and Agha Khan; something which these children couldn’t have done due to lack of resources (ground booking fee) and parents’ permission to travel alone from North Karachi to these far places. I am glad to say that many of them made it to school, college and university teams.
In late 2011, I came across the idea of social development through sport. It was fascinating to see that sport especially football are not just limited to playing professionally. They are being used to bring positive change in societies and to provide opportunities to the neglected population throughout the world to overcome various problems.
From 2012 to 2013, I was part of Azad Foundation where I was fortunate to work with the street children and be a part of the initial phase of the Street Child World Cup campaign. It was exciting to plan various activities and give interviews to national and international media to tell people how sport can bring positive change in life of these children and our society as whole. However nothing was better watching these children play, from the touch line. Even though I left the organization quite early before the tournament, I am proud that the children I worked with from very beginning went on to achieve 3rd position in the tournament.
I strongly believe that the current problems faced by our country are due to the lack of research. We don’t admit that problems exist and don’t bother exploring the reasons behind these problems. Same is the case with our sports. My aim is to do various research studies which will help in providing a better picture on how sport can be improved and used to bring positive change in our society.
This can’t become possible without the support of people involved in sport but with groups like FPDC around, a ray of hope exists because these people share the same aim as me i.e. to bring change in society through sport. I am neither a player nor an official but someone who is aiming to create a better environment for sport in Pakistan. This is a long and hard road but Insha Allah I will prevail.
This article is part of the exclusive reader-submitted series ‘FPDC Stories’. If you too want your footballing story heard, email us at s.sohail@footballpakistan to get published.