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January 11, 2019

Delirious fans welcome football stars Kaka, Figo in Lahore


January 11, 2019

LAHORE: Football world’s legendary figures Luis Figo and Ricardo Kaka launched World Soccer Stars initiative from Pakistan, which will be followed by the visit of another 10 legends of the game in April to play a couple of matches in the country.

The two stars arrived in Lahore Thursday that would surely portray the positive image of Pakistan to the world as a peace-loving and sporting country. As they were escorted to the Packages Mall under a heavily-guarded caravan of police from Lahore airport, scores of fans and officials, who thronged the shopping mall hours before the stars arrival, accorded them warm and memorable welcome.

The moment Figo and Kaka entered the shopping mall, the fans full-throated called their names and Figo kicked a football thrown at him to show his presence.

Figo said Pakistan is a great host. “Had we have more time we would have stayed here for a long duration,” said Figo and added that their visit is memorable. “Pakistan will soon see us in action,” he added. Kaka said he is happy to be in Pakistan. “We will be honing the Pakistani talent,” he added. “I am delighted to visit Pakistan and play an instrumental role in promoting and helping football in the country. I have never been to Pakistan, so I am really excited to come and play football whilst helping unearth hidden talent,” Kaka said.

Figo shared the enthusiasm with his fellow mate saying, “It’s exciting to see another emerging country in Asia embrace football,” he said.

“I’m certain in a population of 220 million; there must be huge potential waiting to surface at the international scene.”

Kaka, who was part of Brazil’s 2002 World Cup winning team, said he hoped to see Pakistan playing in the FIFA World Cup one day. They also announced that a concert will be held in Pakistan soon featuring R&B and hip-hop artiste Akon. The two will captain their respective sides in the April clashes. Figo promised to turn the cricket-crazy Pakistan into a hub of soccer. As part of their effort, Figo said he will be coming back to Pakistan later in April with 10 legends to play here. Kaka further said football may not be the most popular sport in the country that is ruled by cricket. “But we think the door is opening. I would say, keep dreaming and run after your dream. A lot of people don’t do that,” he added.

In 2017, eight international stars led by Brazilian legend Ronaldinho proved the game is gaining popularity, with younger generation adoring the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Luca Modric.

Figo on his part asked the youngsters aspiring to play football professionally, to dream and strive hard for their goals. “It’s important that the government create opportunities,” he added. World Soccer Stars have promised a football spectacle starting from April 26 to 29 with two matches in Karachi and Lahore.

Kaka said, “I am pleased to captain World Soccer Stars. My team has all the ingredients of a star-studded line up from around the world all crafted especially for Pakistan – are you ready to help me take on Team Figo”?

Luis Figo said “The very best of football and music will entertain Pakistanis and I expect Pakistanis to be there in full force. I am delighted to be the opposite team captain of World Soccer Stars – it’s game on, be ready Team Kaka”!

Following their appearance in Karachi at a private hotel, a grand fan experience was provided to them in Lahore at the famous shopping mall. After their presence in the city for a couple of hours, Figo and Kara left for Dubai and from there they will be flying back to their countries to start preparations for the April activity.

The Portuguese and the Brazilian stars arrived in Karachi Thursday to launch the World Soccer Stars initiative taken by a private entity headed by Ahmer Kunwar.

TouchSky Group CEO Ahmer hopes the initiative will help improve Pakistan’s global image. He said, “It’s a pinnacle concept promoting football, music, culture, tourism and all underpinned by presenting Pakistan’s soft image globally”.

Ahmer hopes the visit of the legendary duo will help portray Pakistan’s softer image to the rest of the world.