KARACHI: Pakistan for the first time took part in Football for Friendship programme held in Saint Petersburg, Russia, recently during the FIFA Confederations Cup held from June 17 to July 2.
Teenager Yousuf Moazzam represented the country as the young ambassador who also took part in football meet, while Obaidullah was part of the programme as the young journalist who also underwent a three-day training session in the Russia global media centre. As many as 64 nations from around the globe took part in the adventure the basic purpose of which was to bring closer the international community through children. It is a project of Gazprom.
World football legend Franz Beckenbauer is the global ambassador of the programme which was previously held in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. Fahad Khan, the national operator of the programme in Pakistan, accompanied the two kids on the trip.
“This is the first time I collaborated with them and Pakistan was invited,” Fahad told ‘The News’. “We are in talks to open their office in Pakistan soon and also hold a child outreach programme under Football for Friendship in Pakistan involving at least eight countries.
“Both our youngsters were made head of their groups of eight countries based on their performance, Yusuf the head of young football ambassadors and Obaidullah the head of young football journalists,” he said.
“Our team reached the semi-finals in the international football tournament in which 64 countries participated. They had been divided into eight groups of eight outfits each. Yousuf was made the captain of his team,” he said.
Fahad said the selection had been made following proper trials in Lahore. “We had a trial camp in Lahore in which 65 kids participated. For young ambassador I set eight criteria, including short pass accuracy, long-range passing, shooting, dribbling and ball control,” he elaborated.
“For young journalists, 30 kids showed up. They were assessed on confidence, reading, mock interview sessions with young footballers, and writing. Obaidullah was the head boy of one of the campuses of City School. He had won various declamation contests,” he said.
He said that he was strongly supported in the selection process by Asghar Anjum, a former Pakistan 0team manager, national age-group team coach Mohammad Habib and Shahid Khokhar, part of Pakistan Football Federation’s (PFF) development wing. Pakistan’s contingent also witnessed the Confederations Cup final in Russia which was won by world champions Germany.