Rising football’s popularity in Pakistan reflects growing interest in the sport
ISLAMABAD: (PR) The growing trend of football in Pakistan reflects the promotion of the sport in the country. Thousands of fans flocked to Jinnah Stadium in Islamabad to support the FIFA qualifier matches. Let’s discuss the history of this sport in the country and how it can be further improved.

Football in Pakistan was prominently highlighted by players from Lyari. For many years, football in Pakistan was limited to a few areas, including Balochistan and Lyari. From 1948 to 2003, the National Championship was held in Pakistan.

After 2003, the Pakistan Premier League also began. However, due to the lack of professional football clubs, football did not have access to quality coaching and staff. As football gained popularity on a global level, the sport s standing in Pakistan deteriorated.

The main reason for this decline was the administration’s lack of attention to football. According to reports, the departmental system running in Pakistan was abolished in other countries after the 1960s. Despite this, the passion for the sport is evident, as thousands of people still participate in local football matches in the city of Chaman, Balochistan.

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On the other hand, while Pakistan manufactures footballs for international competitions, it has remained out of international football. FIFA imposed bans on the Pakistan Football Federation first in 2017 and then again in 2021.

After the ban was lifted in 2022, Pakistan played a match against Nepal. With this, Pakistan returned to international football and, for the first time in history, reached the second round of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

The next major milestone for Pakistan is the 2026 World Cup qualifiers. Football experts say that investment in football and the establishment of a league in Pakistan are essential.

Football coach Stephen Constantine believes that Pakistan is not yet ready to reach the third round of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers. It is crucial to further develop football talent by establishing proper coaching centers.

The Dubai-based football club TFA organizes free talent hunt programs in Pakistan every year, providing opportunities for good players to play in international clubs. International clubs also conduct regular talent hunt programs, ensuring that talented players receive training and skills enhancement at the international club level.

If programs are organized in the style of these clubs  excellent efforts, Pakistan s talent can be brought to the forefront. Assistance from the coaching staff of international clubs should be sought so that young players can be introduced to new techniques.

Talent hunt programs should be organized to promote football, bringing talent from the grassroots level to the forefront. Development programs need to be worked on to ensure that good players have access to international clubs.