by Natasha Raheel
KARACHI: “Football is dying in Pakistan and now that K-Electric, one of the oldest football teams in Karachi and in Pakistan is shutting down, where would footballers of Lyari go, what do we tell our children? How do we answer them? Do I want my child to play football? No,” is a pledge, a woe, a wail, a request, and all that comes with broken heart and broken dream, from a footballer.
Last week the K-Electric announced that the players either work on field or be gone, and there seemed to be no football for the team that has been a regular fixture of the Pakistan Premier Football League.
Of course the squad members cannot talk openly because their lives are on a cliff-hanger. Their entire careers are on the verge of ending, while the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) with Normalisation Committee’s set-up have promised in the press release that they will sought help from the K-Electric management, as the football activity in the country is returning after Covid-19.
The battle for the PFF office, meanwhile, is still on as the Normalisation Committee has to hold the elections on a given mandate by Fifa, however the Fifa-appointed officials are trying to bring the football calendar back by announcing tentative schedule for the National Challenge Cup next month and the Premier League by next year in January.
KE should be participating if the negotiations work, or if the company’s management keeps the team.
It is a team of 25 players and all of them are on contracts, according to an insider and the entire squad does not cost more than Rs1.5 million and the decision to disband the team is purely driven by self interest of the corporate, instead of a company that should care for the athletes who have served them for decades.
This is going to be another department following the example of others who also disbanded their teams few years ago. Many departmental sides have been struggling due to the lack of league and club system that PFF never established.
For the local footballers the sport has been a way to change their lives, a way to get employment in different departmental teams and a way to survive by living their dream of playing football.
“This provided food for me on the table, we only know how to play football. That is a skill that we have, that we have developed, now how does a footballer work on field for a power supply company? They are forcing us to choose between football and our livelihood. We’ve played football, as professionally as we could all our lives,” said a player, albeit scared because talking openly will have consequence.
By the looks of the matter, KE wants the players to work on the field, get trained on-duty, and one wonders if it can be dangerous too, in case the footballers would have to deal with power-lines, but mostly it is making a mockery out of sportsmen.
Meanwhile, KE press statement has come in these words that sound like an ultimatum.
“K-Electric (KE) has moved towards creating new opportunities for the talented football players who have played for the power utility. With an offer to bring the players under its corporate umbrella with job offers, KE will also provide opportunities for the players to gain greater recognition and success in their careers. The football players have been offered the chance to work in KE’s field teams. In this respect they will receive relevant on-ground and on-job training.
“Secondly, the football players that choose to not take up this offer, will be granted adequate financial remuneration packages. In this regard the relevant athletes have been asked to revert on the offer by October 5, 2020. After that, their affiliation with the organization will come to an end. It is important to note that KE and the football players both reserve the right to terminate this contractual engagement at any time.”