by Natasha Raheel
KARACHI: Pakistan football team Director Shahzad Anwar said it was high time for both Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) factions and the local departments to release their footballers for international stints.
Anwar, who is on his way to becoming the only Asian Football Confederation Pro-License coach, began his second term in Brazil this year, working with South American giants Sao Paulo FC and Portugesa FC for a month.
He will be returning to Brazil on a consultancy job with the two clubs after Eid next month and wants to help Pakistan’s international players benefit from the opportunity of playing in Brazil too.
“It’s easy for me to gain experience from abroad, but not for the players,” Anwar, who worked in Brazil last year with U17 teams, told The Express Tribune.
Football in Pakistan is in a state of paralysis for more than a year now, with two factions fighting for power. Matters have reached to a point where the Lahore High Court and the government are now involved in the sport’s matters.
Anwar explained that despite his efforts, the PFF’s parallel managements and local departments can prove to be major hurdles for the players in pursuing a career abroad.
“I want to request the departments and the PFF officials to have some heart,” said Anwar. “The players I’ve shortlisted for Brazil are eager to go, but their local departments are not giving them the requisite No-Objection Certificates. The players are also facing the same problem in attaining the relevant documents and letters from the PFF, as they don’t know which faction they should go to. It’s frustrating.”
There have been no international fixtures for Pakistani players since March 23 last year, and the Pakistan Premiere Football League and Division B League are not taking place either.
Anwar pointed out that the local departments should understand that if they let their players go abroad, they will eventually benefit from their footballers’ exposure.
“There isn’t anything happening in the country, so why should the departments stop the players from going? If it were an active domestic season, then they have a right to stop the players,” said an emphatic Anwar.