KARACHI: Under the agreement signed between England’s Swindon Town FC and Karachi Football Club, as many as 26 under-15 players have been shortlisted, two of whom will be picked to be sent to England for a fully-funded training programme for two years with the English club.
Meanwhile, it was announced during a news conference here at the KMC Stadium on Saturday that two coaches, Mohammad Zubair and Basit Ali, will go to England for two weeks in near future to work with Swindon FC. These two coaches were selected out of eight who worked with Swindon Town FC’s coach Alex Pike during trials and training sessions for the last one week.
The 26 players have been shortlisted out of around 300 youngsters who attended the trials. Speaking on the occasion, Commissioner Karachi Iqbal Memon said that they fulfilled the promise made early February.
“The promise which we made early February that our players and coaches would go to England for training with Swindon Town FC has been fulfilled,” Iqbal said.
“It will help in grooming the young lot which will help in football development. I request the two coaches to prepare their passports soon so that their travel arrangements could be made,” the commissioner said.
Iqbal is the chairman of the Karachi Football Club and has been a key force behind the adventure.
Swindon Town FC chairman Zavier Austin said that it was difficult to work in Pakistan. “It’s not easy to work in Pakistan as there is red-tape and other problems. We tried our best to assess the maximum possible lot and 26 have been shortlisted. This lot is raw and needs coaching. They will be trained in a disciplined way until they grow and fulfill our criteria before we pick the two who will go to England to undergo training with us,” Zavier said.
He lauded the support of Commissioner Karachi and other people who helped them make the trials successful.
Alex Pike, a UEFA License B coach, told ‘The News’ that these 26 players will be imparted training under their (Swindon Town FC) schedule and pattern.
“This is a talented lot and we will keep them in training here under our training patterns. The coaches in charge of the training will share with us videos on regular basis and we will monitor the process. I will come to Karachi again in May and then in October. We will pick two after some time but will not discard the rest of the lot. They will be constantly kept under training,” Alex said.
The two coaches who have been picked have been good players at the national level.
Basit played as a midfielder for National Bank for 12 years while Zubair had been a KPT player until recently when the government abolished departmental sports teams.
Basit, who has been running Lyari Soccer Academy for the last six years, represented Pakistan in the World Cup qualifiers in 2009.
Zubair has been associated as a coach with Baghdad Sports for the last two years.
“I wanted to go to Europe as a player but the dream could not be fulfilled but thanks God I am now going to England as a coach. It’s a good opportunity for me to know new things while working with Swindon Town FC,” Zubair told this correspondent.
Basit said he will try to get benefit of this tour. “It’s a golden opportunity for me to work with Swindon Town FC for a few days.”
Midfielder Azan Baloch was declared the best player of the week. All the players and eight coaches were handed over certificates by the Commissioner Karachi and Zavier.
It is pertinent to mention here that Karachi FC is registered in the District East and is headed by Khalid Shamsi.
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