KARACHI: Young football players as well as several coaches are making rapid progress in a training programme launched by an English professional football club here at a local stadium.
Alex Pike who is in the city from Swindon Town FC, a leading club in the English Football League, told ‘The News on Friday that the shortlisted players were quickly learning the ropes.
“The latest update on the project is that it’s is going well, it’s great to be back with the boys that we shortlisted last time working with them and the coaches again,” said Pike, a UEFA B license coach who is currently studying for an advanced Youth Award in the UK.
This is his third trip to Pakistan during the last few months. Pike came to Karachi with Zavier Austin, the vice chairman of Swindon Town FC. Austin was instrumental behind the launching of the project that is conducted by Swindon Town FC in collaboration with Karachi Football Club. The project has the blessings of Iqbal Memon, Commissioner Karachi.
“The boys have made progress since training has began, using and understanding methods that we use at Swindon Town FC. It has been more important this time that we create a team environment that the boys want to turn up to and enjoy their football, as well as learning new things on their footballing journey. So now we have the shortlisted players we are able to do this to create the best learning environment for them,” he said.
“Our sessions are taking place in the evenings, the main reason being is that it’s very warm. With the intensity that the sessions will demand it is important we train when it is slightly cooler.
“The session breakdown is more structured, following the structure we use at Swindon Town and beginning to implement this more than previous time we were here due to seeing so many young talented players,” he said.
The primary goal of the project is to select to two talented under-15 kids from the city for a two-year scholarship that will see them train and play at Swindon Town FC.
“Our dream is to find talented youngsters from Pakistan who can one day break into the English Premier League as well as leading European leagues. No Pakistani player has ever done that but from the talent we’ve seen here I’m sure that with proper training Pakistani players can compete with the best in the world,” said Austin.
So when will Swindon Town be able to finalise the two best players for the stint in England?
“With regards to when players will be ready to come across to England, it’s when the individual is ready. Like anything, if something is going to work it takes time. We are introducing structures here that will give the boys the best chance, but these structures take time. We are striving towards giving the boys the best opportunity, we do not want to set them up for failure or disappointment for the sake of rushing something,” Pike said.
“I mentioned on my first visit that it was like planting a seed, now we are watching that seed and this project grow,” he added.
Pike hailed the role of Commissioner Karachi saying that he has played a big part in making the project happen. “The Commissioner has been extremely supportive,” he said.