In Pakistan’s ‘Mini Brazil,’ football fever runs late into the night during Ramadan

Football grounds in Lyari are small and big, and most of them are not even properly built. But that does not discourage the boys from coming out and playing the game everyday. (AN photo by S.A. Babar)
Football grounds in Lyari are small and big, and most of them are not even properly built. But that does not discourage the boys from coming out and playing the game everyday. (AN photo by S.A. Babar)
Short Url
Updated 24 April 2022

In Pakistan’s ‘Mini Brazil,’ football fever runs late into the night during Ramadan

Football grounds in Lyari are small and big, and most of them are not even properly built. But that does not discourage the boys from coming out and playing the game everyday. (AN photo by S.A. Babar)
  • Lyari, a poor locality in Karachi, is known for its love for the game
  • Young men and children play hundreds of matches during Ramadan nights

KARACHI: Children aged five to six excitedly scurry to the middle of a dimly lit street in Lyari, hoping to get the chance to kick a football as their elder brothers take a short break from a match.  

A poor area of narrow streets and multi-story buildings in the southern port of Karachi, Lyari is often referred to as Pakistan’s “Mini Brazil” — for the love its inhabitants hold for football.  

Football fever on the streets of Lyari reaches a high every Ramadan night when young people take to its formal and informal grounds to play from iftar until sahoor.




Surrounded by multi-story buildings, young men play football at Coach Emad Football Academy stadium in Lyari locality, Karachi, Pakistan, on April 22, 2022. (AN Photo by S.A. Babar)

“I wait for Ramadan impatiently because this month brings us a lot of football matches,” Usman Tariq, one of the teenage players, told Arab News at the Coach Emad Football Academy in the locality.  

You may see them playing football, but when they kick a ball, they hit drugs, they kick crimes and other negative things that have been attached to our locality.

Beberg Baloch, Organizer of night football tournament

Football grounds in Lyari are small and big, and most of them are not even properly built. Many are filled with dust, and few have proper turf. But that does not discourage anyone from playing.

“In Lyari you will see football games everywhere,” Tariq said. “There is a match going on at every ground. In the streets, you will see boys kicking a football.”




Children play football on the streets of Lyari locality in Karachi, Pakistan, on April 22, 2022. (AN Photo by S.A. Babar)

The comfort of playing football in the area has greatly improved since police in Karachi cracked down on the city’s notorious crime and drug gangs in 2013. “We would hear sounds of blasts and see gangsters’ faces,” Tariq said. “Now, we hear cheering crowds and see sportsmen.”

Zaid Abdul Latif, 14, said they would run from one ground to another and between different streets of Lyari to play multiple matches during Ramadan nights.

HIGHLIGHTS

● Lyari talent that gained praise from football stars such as Ronaldinho, Nicolas Anelka, Ryan Giggs, Robert Pires, David James, George Boateng and Luis Boa Morte, who visited Karachi in 2017.

● Local professional players have lately taken more interest in Lyari’s youth-dominated football scene since Karachi became safer.

 “Sometimes, we have to play four matches a night throughout different localities in Lyari,” he added. “We have to catch a rickshaw. Some go on bikes and others just run from one ground to another.”

Cricket-crazy Pakistan has never favored football.

Its national team has never won any major accolades in the sport, and the country’s infrastructure is not fit for international-level training.




Young footballers play at the Coach Emad Football Academy stadium in Lyari, Karachi, Pakistan on April 22, 2022. (AN Photo by S.A. Babar)

But hope is not lost for young Lyari talent that gained praise from football stars such as Ronaldinho, Nicolas Anelka, Ryan Giggs, Robert Pires, David James, George Boateng and Luis Boa Morte, who visited Karachi in 2017.

Legendary former Liverpool striker Michael Owen, who came to Lyari in January, said it was a “hotbed of talent for football.”

“It was great to go visit it and to see it for myself,” he told Arab News at the time.  

Local professional players have lately taken more interest in Lyari’s youth-dominated football scene since Karachi became safer.




With portraits of international football players hanging in the background, fans watch their team's match at the Gabol Sports Ground in Karachi's Lyari, Pakistan on April 22, 2022. (AN Photo by S.A. Babar)

Waseem Sarbazi, a former player and tournament organizer, said they would come from all over the city to play in Lyari. Beberg Baloch, organizer of a night football tournament, said Ramadan matches are held at 16 big grounds and dozens of small ones.

“You may also find football matches on hundreds of streets,” he added.

“You may see them playing football, but when they kick a ball, they hit drugs, they kick crimes and other negative things that have been attached to our locality.”


Kremlin dismisses ‘stupid’ claims Russia attacked Nord Stream

Kremlin dismisses ‘stupid’ claims Russia attacked Nord Stream
Updated 28 September 2022

Kremlin dismisses ‘stupid’ claims Russia attacked Nord Stream

Kremlin dismisses ‘stupid’ claims Russia attacked Nord Stream
  • Europe has been investigating what Germany, Denmark and Sweden said were attacks which had caused major leaks into the Baltic Sea

MOSCOW: The Kremlin on Wednesday said claims that Russia was somehow behind a possible attack on the Nord Stream gas pipelines were stupid, adding that Moscow saw a sharp increase the profits of US companies supplying gas to Europe.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a daily conference call with reporters that the incident needed to be investigated and the timings for repair of the damaged pipelines were not clear.
Europe has been investigating what Germany, Denmark and Sweden said were attacks which had caused major leaks into the Baltic Sea from two Russian gas pipelines at the center of an energy standoff.
Asked about claims Russia might somehow be behind the possible attack, Peskov said: “That’s quite predictable and also predictably stupid.”
“This is a big problem for us because, firstly, both lines of Nord Stream 2 are filled with gas — the entire system is ready to pump gas and the gas is very expensive... Now the gas is flying off into the air.”
“Before making any claims, we should wait for investigation into these ruptures, whether there was an explosion or not,” Peskov said. Information on the incident could be expected from Denmark and Sweden, he said.
Nord Stream AG, the operator of the network, said on Tuesday that three of four offshore lines of the Nord Stream gas pipeline system sustained “unprecedented” damage in one day. All Nord Stream’s pipeline had not delivered gas by the time of the incident.
Nord Stream 1 has reported a significant pressure drop caused by the gas leak on both lines of the gas pipeline, while Nord Stream 2 said that a sharp pressure drop in line A was registered on Monday.


North Korea fires ballistic missile off east coast – Seoul

North Korea fires ballistic missile off east coast – Seoul
Updated 28 September 2022

North Korea fires ballistic missile off east coast – Seoul

North Korea fires ballistic missile off east coast – Seoul
  • Japan’s coast guard also reported a suspected ballistic missile test
  • North Korea also fired a ballistic missile toward the sea off its east coast on Sunday

SEOUL: North Korea fired a ballistic missile off its east coast on Wednesday, South Korea’s military said, as South Korea and the United States staged joint naval exercises involving an aircraft carrier.
Japan’s coast guard also reported a suspected ballistic missile test.
The launch came two days after South Korea and US forces launched their military exercise in the waters off South Korea’s east coast involving an aircraft carrier.
US Vice President Kamala Harris is set to arrive in the South Korean capital, Seoul, on Thursday after a visit to Japan.
North Korea also fired a ballistic missile toward the sea off its east coast on Sunday.
North Korea has been subjected to UN sanctions since 2006, which the Security Council has steadily — and unanimously — stepped up over the years to cut off funding for its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
North Korea rejects UN resolutions as an infringement of its sovereign right to self-defense and space exploration, and has criticized military exercises by United States and South Korea as proof of their hostile intentions.


17 dead in China restaurant fire: authorities

17 dead in China restaurant fire: authorities
Updated 28 September 2022

17 dead in China restaurant fire: authorities

17 dead in China restaurant fire: authorities

BEIJING: A fire at a restaurant in northeastern China on Wednesday killed 17 people and injured three, according to local authorities.
The blaze broke out at 12:40 pm in an eatery in the city of Changchun, the local government said in a statement posted on the Weibo social media platform.


Japan PM ‘regrets’ Morocco’s absence from TICAD 8

Japan PM ‘regrets’ Morocco’s absence from TICAD 8
Updated 28 September 2022

Japan PM ‘regrets’ Morocco’s absence from TICAD 8

Japan PM ‘regrets’ Morocco’s absence from TICAD 8
  • Japan PM Kishida Fumio asked Morocco to cooperate with Japan in the future

TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio said that Morocco’s decision to not participate in the 8th TICAD Summit was “regrettable” during a meeting on Wednesday with the Moroccan Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch.

Kishida stated that he would like to obtain the cooperation of Akhannouch in order to promote the entry of Japanese companies into Morocco and also asked the Moroccan side to cooperate with Japan in the future, including on TICAD events.

In addition, Kishida said that Morocco’s ammonium phosphate is important for the stable supply of fertilizers and that he looked forward to Morocco’s constructive response on the matter.

The two leaders also exchanged views on international issues and resolved to continue working closely together in dealing with the food security risks.

Akhannouch expressed his heartfelt condolences on the passing of former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo and stated that he would like to further strengthen the cooperative relationship that the two countries have built over many years in a wide range of fields.

Kishida expressed his gratitude to Akhannouch for attending Abe’s state funeral and said that the two countries have enjoyed good relations for many years based on the friendship between the imperial and royal families.


Kishida promises support for two-state solution in meeting with former Palestine PM

Kishida promises support for two-state solution in meeting with former Palestine PM
Updated 28 September 2022

Kishida promises support for two-state solution in meeting with former Palestine PM

Kishida promises support for two-state solution in meeting with former Palestine PM
  • Kishida stated that Japan should refrain from any unilateral measures that go against the peace process

TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Wednesday reiterated his support for a “two-state solution” to the Palestinian problem during a “candid exchange of views” with former Palestinian Prime Minister Dr. Rami Hamdallah in Tokyo on Wednesday.

Kishida stated that Japan should refrain from any unilateral measures that go against the peace process and said he would like to continue contributing to the improvement of the environment for the progress of peace in the Middle East.

Japan’s PM also expressed his support for Palestine’s economic self-reliance through food assistance of more than $8 million – which was provided in response to the deterioration of food security in Palestine as a result of the situation in Ukraine – and the “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity” initiative promoted by Japan. Hamdallah expressed his gratitude for Japan’s support. 

Hamdallah conveyed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ condolences on the passing of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Kishida expressed his gratitude for the condolences sent by Palestinian officials.

Both sides agreed to continue to develop the relationship between Japan and Palestine.

This article was originally published on Arab News Japan.