KARACHI A Few departments have done more or taken such an intense interest in promoting football in the country as the Karachi Port Trust which decided to independently sponsor a national championship which will see completion of semi-finals stage here on Friday. The KPT, which directly gave over Rs three million to Pakistan Football Federation to host the championship, will face its biggest challenge in the competition when they face a strong and favourite KRL in the semi-final at its own KPT Benazir Bhutto Football Stadium at 3.30 PM. The second semi-final of the 16-team championship between NBP and Balochistan will be played at Malir Colony Sports Stadium in the afternoon .NBPs strength would be fiercely tested by the Balochistan team which entered the semi final after upsetting Pakistan Army. KPT is the biggest employer of football stars. Not only the KPT had held tournaments at local level it provided immense employment opportunities to the locals including footballers some of whom became known figures in British India. The KPT was among first sponsors of poor mans sports in British India and later in the independent Pakistan. The game made its appearance in Karachi soon after ships started landing at the native jetty after the British had consolidated their administrative control of Sindh in late 19th century. The sturdy native found the game to their liking and were quick to adopt to the new sport. As they were poor and were involved in loading and unloading of goods destined for the interior of the country, they hardly had the then known playing paraphernalia. They played barefooted. So talented were they, that they surprised the Gora Sahab who preferred to play against local teams. The sport got tremendous boost after Pakistan became an independent nation in August 1947. It was due to the efforts of the KPT that the nearby residential neighborhood of Lyari became the football bowl of Pakistan. Youngsters born and raised in total football atmosphere of football were most sought after by other departments who raised football team. The KMC became the biggest beneficiary of the Lyari talent. It raised a strong team hiring player mostly youngsters from Lyari. Sindh Printing Press, PWD, KESC all established good teams getting players from Lyari. A large number of local clubs also got their players from the football bowl. The decision of the KPT sponsoring a national championship was taken by Board of Directors of the KPT. The vice chairman of the board Iqbal Umer, a known sports lover and organiser played important role in convincing the directors that the KPT should play greater role in the promotion of football and it should host a national level championship. The Pakistan Football Federation was approached with the request to grant the permission for the championship and at the same time help in getting good teams. The PFF provided helping hand and after giving the permission advised all the top teams to play in Karachi. To make the championship a unique success, KPT dished out big money for the competition teams and decided to upgrade its footballs stadium located just a few hundred yards from the KPT head office. A new grassy turf was laid; the entire stadium which could hold close to 10,000 spectators was renovated and painted. Stands around the stadium were named after reputed players who had donned KPT colors. The KPT football stadium could be rated as one of the two best in the city. The football facility is only second to the Peoples Football stadium located on Mauripur Raod not far from the KPT football facility. The championship was organised at two stadiums, at KPT Benazir Bhutto stadium and at Pakistan Steel town football ground. Pakistan Steel mills was gracious to allow its facility to be used and also provided boarding and lodging to the teams who would play there. The 12 teams that were eliminated from competition before semi final stage were Army, Navy, PIA, PEL, KESC, HBL, Pak Steel, SSGC, Punjab, Sindh, NWFP and Islamabad.