by Zulfiqar Ali
DI KHAN: As a football tournament is under way in Wana, locals have seen the revival of a sport that comes naturally to them. The matches are held at the sports complex that is said to be the first one constructed after September 11, 2001.
These days thousands throng the sports complex, situated near Wana Bazaar, to watch matches being held under All Pakistan Football Tournament that started on July 28 and will go on for another around 15 days.
“A large number of people have come to watch the matches. This shows how much locals love football,” South Waziristan Agency Sports Manager Taj Muhammad told The Express Tribune. “We not only encourage local football players, but also facilitate them, because if they are given the opportunity only then will they be able to show their talent.”
In the tournament, 20 teams from across Pakistan are participating. It is held under the sports department of FATA Secretariat with support of the political administration.
People who have been going to the sports complex to watch the football matches have expressed great zeal on having such an occasion.
“I hardly find time to watch matches [on television], but this tournament has served as a good source of entertainment [for us],” Ishaq Khan alias Khaka Wazir, a local, told The Express Tribune. “Such activities should continue to take place.” Khakay Wazir had gone to watch Friday’s match.
“I really enjoyed the match between Red Club Bannu and Pakhero Club Dabkot,” he said. “However, my favourite team, Dabkot, lost by one goal.” He added the tournament that is under way reminded him of the days of yore when football was widely played in Wana.
“There were many good footballers, including Sairuddin alias Suzuki,” he said. “He was called Suzuki because of the speed of his legs.” He used to play for the Young 11 Dabkot team from Dabkot village of Wana.
As Khakay Wazir mentioned, football is not new to Wana. There was a time when the sport was played by private clubs at the village level.
One of these clubs was Musa Nika Football Club that used to annually arrange tournaments annually in which teams from even Karachi would participate. “These would be well-organised matches where spectators had to buy ticket to watch the game,” Khakay Wazir said.
At the end of the tournament, the winner would be presented a trophy. “A function would be held at night where food was enjoyed with music.”
However, militancy that gripped the region also affected sports activities. But little has been done to bring football back to life in Wana.