by Mir Shabbar Ali
KARACHI: The Lyari Super League kicked off at the KPT Football Stadium on Saturday amid fanfare and smiles across the faces of young footballers who could not wait to get on the field and display their skills.
While teams from Baghdadi and Gul Muhammad Lane played the opening fixture of the tournament, players from other teams and notable sports persons from Lyari watched intently after participating in a march past during the opening ceremony.
“This is the very first time I’m witnessing such a ‘hi-fi’ tournament in Lyari,” Furqan Ahmed of Kallari told Dawn. “This is a great chance for us to show off our talent.”
The tournament is organised by the Wish Foundation, a recently founded NGO lead by Suhail Baloch — an educationist, a human rights activist, and a recently-retired pilot for Pakistan International Airlines.
As many as 300 players will represent 16 teams from different neighbourhoods of Lyari Town during the tournament.
There are many tournaments held across Lyari throughout the year but the Lyari Super League seems to be a different brand. The organisers have tried to reach the relevant audience through sophisticated work on social media.
The tournament’s Facebook page features pictures of participating players posing over a backdrop of vibrant graphics mentioning there playing positions and the teams which they are representing.
To add up to it, some popular names from the corporate sector are sponsoring the event.
“We’ve been planning to organise this tournament since the last seven to eight months,” Iqbal Baloch, the chief coordinator of the Wish Foundation, told Dawn.
“To select the teams, trials were held and 300 players were selected before we divided them into 16 teams,” he added.
Baloch said organising more tournaments like such in other areas of the city is also a part of their future plans.
“We’ll also go to Malir,” he said.
According to Baloch, Lyari Super League has got full support from the District Football Association South and the Sindh Football Association, who’s respective heads Nasir Karim and Rahim Bux Baloch were present at the venue.
The tournament ends on November 4.