Lyari, the famous old town in Pakistan’s industrial hub Karachi is famous for its enthusiasm for football. Perhaps, this is the reason why despite the third wave of coronavirus the town has organized the Ramadan street football tournament for the young girls. The Twitter handle of @FootballPak uploaded the video of young girls playing football in the streets of Lyari amidst the crowd cheering for them. The video was indeed heartwarming for several reasons. However, it also garnered huge criticism since Covid19 cases in Pakistan are rising while its neighboring country India which is an epicenter of the Pandemic is struggling with the oxygen shortage.
Due to the huge interest of its people in football, Lyari is also known as Little Brazil. The town is home to People Football Stadium which has a capacity of 40,000 spectators. Apart from football, wrestling, boxing and donkey carts racing are the popular sports in the area.
What Is So Cool About Girls Playing Football in Lyari Streets
A positive thing about the video is that an old town in Karachi that is not much developed has streets that are not hostile to women athletes. The town is offering public spaces for sports events; something that elite housing societies like DHA fail to provide. If not for the violation of coronavirus SOPs the tournament is simply proving a step towards promotion of football among the young generation and utilization of the street for a healthy purpose with encouragement from the community members. The youth of marginalized areas that can’t find it easy to access the lavish sports complex and clubs can be groomed in such streets. Also, it gives hope that in Pakistan a country where cricket is the dominant sport, other sports like football can also grow if given patronage from the government. The interest from the people and youth irrespective of the gender is there as evident from the video of girls playing football.
Future of Football in Pakistan
Apart from the concerns related to the third wave of coronavirus, the video offers a sign of hope not only for women athletes in the country but for the overall football scene in Pakistan which is in an abysmal state. Just a few weeks back FIFA (Federation for International Football Association) suspended Pakistan football over a hostile takeover of the Pakistan Football Federation.
Girls playing football in Lyari streets is not the only welcoming event for the revival of this sport. Back in 2014, Pakistan had made headlines for making it to the semi-final of the Street Child Football World Cup in Brazil. The 9 members squad of the team consisted of kids who were homeless and had undergone rehabilitation. The team was groomed by the Azad Foundation.
The government and other associated organizations have taken some steps for the promotion of the football scene in Pakistan. Back in 2019 footballers Ricardo Kaka and Luis Figo had visited Pakistan to promote the World Soccer Star event. Before that, Ronaldinho had visited Pakistan, the tour was arranged by the Leisure Leagues.