PFF announces National Football Cup 2018 after FIFA lifts ban

A group photo of the senior football team in Pakistan. (Photo courtesy: Pakistan Football Federation)
Updated 31 March 2018
0

PFF announces National Football Cup 2018 after FIFA lifts ban

LAHORE: Taking a step forward to revive the sport after FIFA restored the country’s membership, Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) has announced it is holding the National Football Challenge Cup 2018 after a gap of two years, Shahid Khokhar, Director League Development and Media, confirmed to Arab News.
The challenge cup will be played from April 20 to May 10 in Karachi, where 24 teams are expected to participate.
In the last challenge cup played in 2016, 16 teams faced each other to lift the trophy, while the number of participating teams in 2015 was 14. This year more teams have showed an interest in taking part. Matches will be played on the grounds of Karachi Port Trust.
“The cup is a major milestone in the revival of football in the country, a step to cultivate talent and take the sport to new heights. The wastelands of football will be turned into green meadows of the sport now,” jubilant Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat, president of the PFF, told Arab News.
The tournament was initiated in 1979 and had been played under different names — the Pakistan Football Federation President’s Cup, the Pakistan Inter-Departmental Championship, the National Departmental Championship, the Inter Provincial Championship — but in the year 2005 its name was changed to National Football Challenge Cup.
It is the first tournament of the Faisal-led PFF body after a gap of three years, as the federation was being run by a court-appointed administrator. The appointment of the administrator was declared unlawful by a division bench of the High Court which ordered financial and administrative control to be handed over to the legitimate body headed by Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat.
FIFA also lifted the ban imposed on PFF earlier this month after the legitimate body was restored by the court ruling.
“We got a positive response from football lovers as many new teams are vying to get registered in the National Challenge Cup 2018,” Hayat added.
The PFF secretary, Col. Ahmad Yar Lodhi, has also appreciated the formation of new departmental clubs.
It is “good for the game as it will support the endeavors of PFF in many ways,” reads a federation press release. “It would not only help groom new talent but many football coaches would also get employment with the new teams.”
Pakistan State Life Insurance, Asia Ghee Mills and Shama Banaspati have approached PFF for their teams to be registered for the National Challenge Cup 2018.
The PFF is vying to find new blood in Pakistani football and plans to form a special committee to find new talent for the national team.


Meet the Saudi Arabian businessman shaping squash’s Olympic dream

Updated 14 November 2018
0

Meet the Saudi Arabian businessman shaping squash’s Olympic dream

LONDON: A Saudi Arabian businessman is driving the bid to get squash included in the Olympics for the first time.
The World Squash Federation has petitioned three times for squash to join the Games, but each bid has been rejected by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The decision has prompted frustration in the squash community, particularly as sports such as climbing, surfing and skateboarding have been admitted.
Ziad Al-Turki is the Chairman of the Professional Squash Association (PSA) and has done wonders in marketing the game and broadening its appeal. He is now pushing hard for the game to be showcased on the biggest stage of all at the 2024 Olympics Games in Paris.
Squash has huge global appeal, with the men’s singles final in the last Commonwealth Games attracting a TV audience of more than one million.
“Everyone’s ultimate goal is the Olympics,” said Al-Turki. “The main push comes from the World Squash Federation (WSF) and for many years they were stuck in their ways. We changed a lot at the PSA and ticked every box with the IOC. The WSF just stayed stagnant and didn’t do anything. They didn’t want to put our hand in their hand and work together.”
Relations between the PSA and the WSF came to a head in 2015 in the wake of squash losing out to wrestling for a spot at the 2020 Olympics. A statement from the PSA described the then president of WSF, Narayana Ramachandran, as an “embarrassment to the sport.”
“Nothing could happen with the president of the WSF. Nothing would change. It was just a one-man show. We tried to help but he wouldn’t accept any help,” Al-Turki said. “We have a new president now and they are all very keen,” he added.
Jacques Fontaine is the new president and at his coronation in 2016 he encouragingly said “the Olympic agenda remains a priority.”
“The WSF love the sport and they understand the needs of the IOC,” said Al-Turki.
“They understand the PSA is at a completely different level to the WSF and we’ve now joined forces and are working together. Hopefully 2024 will be the year squash is in the Olympics. Right now, the way we are working together is the strongest collaboration ever and hopefully we can tick all the boxes for the IOC.
“We ticked all the right bodies as a professional association but the WSF didn’t. Now they are putting their hands in ours and we will tick all the right boxes for the ICO.”
Al-Turki, once described as the Bernie Ecclestone of squash, has certainly transformed the sport since he took up office in 2008.
“When I joined the PSA we didn’t have any media coverage,” he said. “Right now we are live in 154 countries. the women’s tour has just grown stronger and stronger — the income has gone up by 74 percent.
“I just love the squash players. I think they are incredible athletes are are some of the fittest athletes in the world. I felt they deserved better and I wanted them to have better.
“I don’t think we’ll be able to reach the levels of football and tennis in terms of exposure and prize money, but I want to reach a level where they will retire comfortably. It’s one of the fastest growing sports in the world right now.
“It’s all about the player and their well being. Nick Matthew retired recently and I think he’s retired comfortably. I think I’ve contributed to this as the income has improved. That’s all I want – nothing more.”