Pakistan’s biggest football event begins on July 8 in Karachi. First time biggest Pakistan Football Stars Matches Karachi, Lahore Schedule Timing Tickets Price Booking Online issued.
Football stars Ronaldinho, John Terry, Robert Pires, Roberto Carlos, Nicolas Anelka, David James, Luis Boa Morte and George Boateng will compete in a seven-a-side exhibition match on July 8 in Karachi and July 9 in Lahore, with three players apiece lining alongside Ronaldinho and Terry in either team.
“The national champions of the Leisure Leagues will get the unique chance of playing alongside these players,” said World Group chief operating officer Ishaq Shah.
“Each team can have a maximum of 10 players, with seven playing and three subs, so as many as 12 local players will rub shoulders with these eight legends of the beautiful game.”
The World Group is the company behind UK-based Leisure Leagues coming to Pakistan in the first place.
“Leisure Leagues existed in three countries before; the UK, the US and the Republic of Ireland. We bought ownership for the remaining 203 countries, while also becoming a partner of the venture in the UK – where the league is headquartered.
So Pakistan is the fourth country in the world where Leisure Leagues have been introduced. We plan to take it to the Middle East and Europe after this.”
The grand exhibition match will be Leisure Leagues’ magnum opus but Ishaq insisted the initiative had already seen more than expected interest from the country’s youth.
“We have brought something truly unique to the football-loving youth of Pakistan and it’s great to see them respond in such enthusiastic fashion,” he said.
“We provide them with grounds that are of an international standard, we provide them with footballs of the highest qualities as well as a trained referee, while also having complete first-aid kits at hand in case an injury takes place.”
The facilities provided may well be better than anything previously available to the general public, but it does come at a steep price.
“Each 30-minute match costs Rs5,000. Since there are two teams of 10 players apiece, that makes it Rs250 a person.”
Pakistan Football Stars Matches Karachi, Lahore Schedule Timing Tickets Price Booking Online
Most futsal and football grounds across the country can be booked at half the price for double that time. Ishaq knows the price may not be everybody’s cup of tea but made no bones about this being a business venture first and foremost.
“If you do something as non-profit or start depending on donations, then you can soon lose interest in it,” he said.
“We want to make this a commercial success as well in order to ensure that it is a self-sustaining project. That way we can ensure the country and its football fans benefit from this in the long run.”
Ishaq further revealed that talks have already begun to bring ‘the best’ players in the world to Pakistan for next year, but was naturally hesitant to divulge their names since talks are at a very early stage at the moment.
Not an easy journey: Pakistan’s poor security situation means international sport in the country has come to a virtual standstill, so it comes as no surprise that the World Group had its work cut out in their bid to bring these players to Pakistan.
“Yes we did face a few problems convincing these players to come to Pakistan,” admitted Ishaq.
“The unfortunate blast in Lahore took place just two days before we signed Ronaldinho, so it wasn’t easy to bring the players here. The army helped us a lot by offering to provide the players security for these matches.”
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