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Numerous challenges ahead

From player and coach development to building infrastructure, the Pakistan Football Federation has to do a lot of work to promote the game

Numerous challenges ahead
Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) has to face numerous challenges after being restored by courts and given time till March 2020 by FIFA, which has recognised its June 2015 elections. Under FIFA instructions it will have to revise its constitution and bring it at par with FIFA’s statutes. The second major task is to hold PFF elections by March 2020. Both are big targets.

The world football governing body will assist the federation in undertaking these tasks. There is a need for a viable and transparent electoral system. Football is one of those sports disciplines in Pakistan which have been hit hard over the years by political and third party’s interference. The new electoral rules should prohibit entry of any irrelevant person into the system which needs technocrats and professionals.

The leading eight clubs of the Premier League should be given voting right. The PFF Congress should have representatives of coaches and players. It would be a positive step if coaches put their heads together and formed a coaches association and players formed a players association.

It would enable the two important stakeholders to protect their rights. But in the current scenario it does not look likely as coaches and players have failed to unite.

Besides these tasks, the PFF has to complete the FIFA Goal Projects and make those functional which have already been completed.

Currently, PFF has no pitch and this is a big hurdle in the way of football promotion. The FIFA Goal Projects, when made functional, would resolve the training pitch issue to a certain extent.

The football governance system in the country is highly centralised. There is no major role of the provinces despite their strength in the PFF Congress.

To develop football, provincial associations will have to be empowered. A secretary of a provincial association only serves tea to guests during a tournament. He has no powers at all. Most of the provincial associations have not organised any event for several years.

The PFF needs a highly qualified, technocrat workforce in its headquarters. It needs foreign directors to run various faculties of cardinal importance in the PFF.

The PFF chief’s mobility will also be of immense importance. He will have to come out of Lahore and regularly interact with the stakeholders in all the provinces. It would create harmony in the football fraternity and the PFF head would better know the issues impeding football growth.

The PFF should also mend its relations with all those who stood against the federation during the last few years. Without joint efforts it is not possible to develop football in which around three million people of Pakistan are actively involved. It’s a huge sport and needs proper treatment.

The AID-27 programme was very effective as through that qualified coaches used to work at the grassroots level. We also saw some fine young products during those years.

But now that programme has been abolished. There is a need to initiate such a programme so that qualified coaches could work for polishing young talent in their respective regions.

After being restored early this year, the PFF immediately hired the services of Brazilian coach Jose Antonio Nogueira and trainer Jose Portella. Both have so far played a positive role. However, it is not easy for a coach to show his real strength in such a short time. The way Pakistan delivered in the Asian Games and SAFF Cup under Nogueira this summer gave us hope that the Brazilian will bring further strength into the elite squad. Next year will be a testing period for Nogueira as Pakistan will be fielding in the Olympic Qualifiers and most probably World Cup Qualifiers besides the South Asian Games.

The other day during an interview Nogueira told me that his main focus would be on Olympic and World Cup qualifiers. Let’s see how his teams deliver in these major events. Staying away for three years from international action badly hurt Pakistan footballers’ growth. But the way Pakistan resumed its international journey has given hope that the national team, through proper involvement of foreign-based stuff, can progress rapidly.

Because of shortage of time the PFF had to stick this time to the out-dated style of the Premier League with a substantial increase in match and clubs bonuses. It intends to introduce a professional or semi-professional league from next season. Without professional league it is not possible to develop the game.

Club licensing is another big challenge which the PFF is facing. It has started working on it and from next year the Premier League teams will have to adopt the AFC club licensing system.

The PFF should also resolve the issue of former Pakistan captain Kaleemullah, who plays these days in Turkey.

Kaleem is a fine player and he should be handled wisely. There are some players, who revolt against the system. Why they revolt needs to be known. It’s the job of the PFF to handle the issue of Kaleem effectively as Pakistan needs his services, especially in the current scenario.

 

Alam Zeb Safi

Alam Zeb copy
The writer is a sports reporter at The News International. He may be reached at [email protected]

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