Sports Correspondent – The News
KARACHI: Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) is expected to get a couple of artificial pitches from the world football governing body, FIFA, next year.
The PFF President Faisal Saleh Hayat had told FIFA that Pakistan would need some artificial pitches for a few of the FIFA Goal Projects in the country.
“FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke has told us that we would be given a couple of pitches. But these are expected to be delivered next year,” PFF secretary Col Ahmed Yar Lodhi told ‘The News’ on Friday after returning from Sri Lanka where he attended FIFA-AFC Member Associations and Development Seminar. Jerome also attended the seminar.
The PFF chief and Director Development and Competitions Pervez Saeed Mir were also present at the seminar.
Pakistan has got eight Goal Projects from FIFA, out of which Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar have been completed. The projects in Sukkur, Abbottabad, Quetta, Jacobabad and Khanewal are under construction.
Along with boarding facilities for the players these projects also have football grounds which will play a major role in the development of football in the country.
Currently the PFF has no football ground. It mostly relies on the government-owned facilities or other private pitches for training of the players for international assignments.
Lodhi said that the seminar in Sri Lanka was very productive as all the officials of the member associations of the region discussed their achievements and problems.
Lodhi said that at the seminar the stress was on strategic planning and youth development. In his address there, he said that PFF had a strategic plan and it was focusing on youth development as well. “I also told them that we are trying to improve our league structure, marketing and media departments. I also said that you always tell about the promotion of club culture but in Pakistan it is the departmental culture which plays a major role in the development of football. In the past in Russia departments had a role which ultimately transformed into club system,” Lodhi said.
He pointed out that before the start of the youth development programme in Pakistan in 2007, the team used to lose with big margins at the international level, but that had considerably dropped, which was a sign of improvement.
“Around 75 percent players of the current Pakistan team have come from the PFF youth development programme,” Lodhi claimed.
He said that it was not difficult for Pakistan to be among the top ten to 15 countries of Asia in the next ten years.
Lodhi also revealed that Pakistan team would leave for South Korea from Lahore on September 11 to feature in the Asian Games, to be held in Incheon from September 19.
However, football slots will begin from September 14. Pakistan have been bracketed in Group F with North Korea and China, both of whom have World Cup experience.
Pakistan will face North Korea in their opener on September 18 and China on 22. Two teams from the pool will progress to the round of 16.
Star defender Mohammad Ahmed who has recently joined Bahrain’s second division club Isa Town FC has also joined the camp which is in progress in Lahore under coach Mohammed Shamlan.
Lodhi said that star striker Kaleemullah, Saddam Hussain and Mohammad Adil, who are playing for Kyrgyzstan’s top club Dordoi Bishkek, would join the camp on September 8.