Umaid Wasim – DAWN
KARACHI: In a move similar to what the German Football Association (DFB) did 10 years ago and the All India Football Federation (AIFF) did last year, the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) is looking to revamp the country’s elite league which will, in turn, help the national team grow.
Germany’s World Cup victory last year came a decade after the DFB asked the country’s clubs to have a youth setup and with the PFF pushing for club licensing in the Pakistan Premier Football League (PPFL), a youth team is a must for its participating teams.
Similarly, with departments currently taking part in the country’s top league, the club licensing regulations also aims at clubs — in the shape of franchises — being at the forefront of those departments the way AIFF did at last year’s glamorous Indian Super League (ISL).
Youth team to be made a must part of licensed clubs
“The presence of a youth team is vital to have the departments licensed as clubs,” Shahid Khokar, the man tasked with the job of helping the departments make that change after being appointed Manager Club Development under AFC’s Kick Off programme, told Dawn on Tuesday.
“We are striving to make departments realise that the Kick Off programme is for their benefit and for the greater benefit of Pakistan football as it will see us have a professional league in the country,” Shahid continued.
“The youth teams for the clubs will help build a talent pool which will in turn help benefit the national team and in this regard, the PFF is looking at holding the National U-19 Championship next month in which all departments participating in the PPFL have to send the teams.”
The other more important aspect of the Kick Off programme is to give clubs an identity beyond their departments and establish them as franchises owned by their departments but registered as separate entities.
“The next PPFL season will kick-start a face-change of the PPFL,” Shahid added. “The aim is to make clubs public-friendly entities which will be backed by their departments but having a separate identity which can also generate its own revenue.
“The departments have been sent the club licensing regulations of AFC [Asia’s football governing body] and we would like to update them according to the modern lines in terms of management, online presence and fan-base development.
“The main aim is to give the football teams of the departments a public-friendly image by making them clubs. The support of the departments is needed as they have helped the PPFL grow into what it is now.”
Shahid informed that in order to give the PPFL a more professional approach, they are also mulling radical changes in the timing of matches and scheduling. “We want to engage fans by holding matches on weekends,” he said.
Also PFF’s media manager, Shahid disclosed that they haven’t planned about assisting the clubs to sign foreign players but a player draft — the one used by the ISL — could be used in the future.
In a player draft, the tournament’s organising body — in this case the PFF — will sign up a number of foreign players for the league who will then be auctioned through a draft pick in which the PPFL clubs will take part.
As far as PPFL’s marketing is concerned, Fahad Ayaz has been hired as Manager Marketing and Integrity for the Kick Off programme and he’s working on bringing money into the PPFL.
“We’ll try to brand the players and clubs through the programme,” he told Dawn on Tuesday. “We’ll be trying strategies to reach out to the fans and we’re asking the corporate sector to get involved and be a part of a growing sport in the country. Next season, we’ll try making the PPFL commercially viable.”
Published in Dawn, January 21st, 2015