Coming from a remote area of Balochistan and having almost no resources at his disposal, Fazl Muhammad had to beat all the odds to be a part of Pakistan’s football team.
Such was his determination and thirst for excelling in the sport that the teenager from Khuzdar ran six kilometers in the morning to make it to the stadium where he went through a rigorous practice schedule daily in order to hone his skills.
“Being the main breadwinner of my family, it was quite a tough schedule for me as I had to go to my workshop after practice session. I seldom had time to socialize,” he said in a meeting with journalists in Karachi.
Fazl scored two goals against Afghanistan and Iran each in a regional tournament in 2010 that eventually led him to become a member of the national football team.
“Football is my passion, a passion which enables me to live my life. This is everything to me despite the lack of facilities and tough financial challenges that I face. Because I want to become a great football player from Pakistan and a hero on the world stage, come what may, I shall excel” he said, his eyes glimmering with determination.
Inspired by Pakistani football player Waseem Jhang ,Fazl is a big fan of Lionel Messi, the Argentinean footballer who plays for Spanish club FC Barcelona.
He may have fulfilled his dream of becoming a professional footballer, but lack of football grounds, coaches and clubs are the challenges that he said youth in Balochistan still face when it comes to making a mark in the sport.
“Footballers are underpaid and provided allowances of Rs 1,500 to 2,000 per day on a brief visit, which is not enough to run the kitchen,” he said.
“I do support my family as a major contributor because my elder brothers are supporting their own families. It is difficult to earn money while playing as a professional footballer in Pakistan. I work at a workshop to earn a living because my passion is not translating into a source of income for me”, he added further.
Muhammad Fazl was offered a job by Pakistan Navy, but during the course of recruitment he was diagnosed with Hepatitis B, thus, he lost the opportunity.
Though the athlete parried a question regarding a conflict in the Pakistan Football Federation–perhaps to avoid courting controversy–– he lamented the inaction of the national team, which he says is wasting talent.
The Pakistani football team has not taken to the arena since its defeat at the hands of Yemen in March last year.
While Pakistan’s football authorities are mired in a crisis after splitting into two groups over an election row, ignoring the plight of Fazl and many other players, a cellular company came forward to support him by signing him in its latest ad.