by Alam Zeb Safi
KARACHI: Former Pakistan captain Mohammad Essa on Tuesday said that the country’s football direly needs drastic changes in its structure if the sport is to prosper, writes Alam Zeb Safi.
“We are way behind the world in football and the new setup of the PFF which will come in future through elections will have to take drastic steps to boost the sport’s structure so that encouraging results could be produced,” Essa told ‘The News’ in an interview from his hometown Chaman on Tuesday.
“In the first step league should be developed. Only professional league and standard grounds could lead you to success,” Essa said. “In the current league, heaps of matches cannot prepare a player for international duty and effort should be made to focus on league so that quality players could be produced,” he added.
Essa was the most successful skipper of Pakistan, having captained the elite side in international circuit for almost a decade. He is currently serving former Premier League champions K-Electric as coach.
Essa has done his AFC License B coaching course and has also served as assistant coach of Pakistan senior team during few tours. “Another factor which adds to the misery of the country’s football is that coaches at the departmental level don’t work properly,” he said, adding that there is no plan at the grassroots level.
“Hunting talent at the grassroots level and then grooming it through a proper channel is absolutely necessary. For that we will need youth academies in all provinces. It will not only keep the local coaches active but will also enable the talent to come to the mainstream,” Essa said.
He said that the future PFF will have to open such a branch in Europe where young talent could be sent for grooming and training. “India has done so and is getting the fruit,” Essa pointed out.
He also suggested that besides strengthening league, departmental super league can also be organised. “It will further add to the beauty of the national calendar and the players will get good football,” Essa was quick to add.
He said deserving and sincere people should be given the chance to work in the country’s mainstream football. Essa added that media and marketing departments should be strengthened.
“These are the two basic areas and if strengthened would improve the game,” he said. “You know you need huge money for football development and you cannot earn it without media and efficient marketing wings,” he said.
He also stressed the need for a web channel for the PFF which will help promote the game. “A web channel should be there. It’s not difficult.” He also stressed the need for a highly efficient Director Technical. “We need a good Director Technical who could properly plan and that should be implemented by the relevant Federation,” Essa said.