ISLAMABAD             -         A meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on promotion and development of football in the country was held under the chair of Senator Dilawar Khan on Tuesday.

Senator Dr Asad Ashraf, Senator Mirza Muhammad Afridi, Senator Rubina Khalid, Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) Secretary Akbar Hussain Durrani, Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) Acting Director General Amna Imran, Muhammad Azam Dar, PFF Normalisation Committee Acting General Secretary Haris Alam and Member Col (R) Mujahid Ullah Tareen were also present in the meeting.

In his opening remarks, Senator Dilawar said: “We want to take football to new heights like cricket, as football and footballers have suffered a lot. It is very important for all of us to promote football, as Pakistan has tremendous potential in this wonderful sport. We had won the SAARC Football Championship. If the government lends a helping hand, football will take centre stage in the country. I request the committee members to send their suggestions for uplifting football in the country.”

Senator Afridi said: “We have done so much for the promotion of football in the country, but still efforts are required in many areas. The main thing is to find out raw talent and transform them into champions.” Senator Asad said: “I want to know that which authority is controlling the game in the country. The direction and working of the normalisation committee must also be made clear.”

Sharing her views, Senator Rubina urged the concerned quarters to unite for the promotion of the game and said: “Chairman Senate had termed 2020 as a football year, so we all have to join hands to work for the betterment of this game in the country. We need to take practical steps, rather than playing blame games. What was done in the past is not important, but what is being done for the future of the game is very important.

“Football is the best tool to attract youth towards healthy sporting activities and distract them from harmful habits. The country is blessed with immense amount of football talent, so if the government provides coaches and establishes football academies at all major cities, the country will perform well in the international arena,” she added.

The normalisation committee delegation also informed the committee about the difficulties being faced by them especially on organisational issues. When Senator Afridi asked the delegation about the grant they are get from the FIFA, they replied that they got only Rs 3.5 million from the PSB, which was meager to run the affairs of the federation.

IPC Secretary Akbar said that the government cannot interfere according to FIFA rules, as it will be against the charter of the world football governing body. South Africa-based Pakistani Intikhab, who is eager to promote football in the country, also attended the meeting and informed the members about his desire to work for the game.

He acknowledged the importance of funds and gave suggestions to first work on basic infrastructure and promotion of football among students. “If the government wants to improve the game, then it must take effective steps and make substantial raise in PFF’s

annual grant,” Senator Afridi concluded.