THE architectural plan of the Karachi Goal project.
THE architectural plan of the Karachi Goal project.

KARACHI: The Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) claims that the Karachi Goal project is “fully functional”. On a closer look, though, it doesn’t seem so.

A PFF spokesperson claimed Dawn had misinterpreted when the country’s football governing body said that the project, awarded in 2006 by FIFA, was “fully functional”.

A question begs to be answered. How could one define a “fully functional” football training facility?

Shouldn’t it be a place which should be open to public? Shouldn’t be a place where kids train or stay? Or rather, shouldn’t it be a place where the PFF holds training programmes?

To verify PFF’s claims of a “fully functional” facility, a White Star photographer went to the venue located in Hawke’s Bay Scheme 42 under the Lyari Development Authority (LDA) on Thursday.

A building surely exists, but there is little sign of what one expects to be a training facility. The gates were locked, the building where one expects to see a hub of football activity going on, was desolate — at 3:30pm.

In a city like Karachi where summer months see scorching temperatures, it is at this time of the day where aspiring footballers start to gather to train.

A VIEW of the facility through Google Earth.
A VIEW of the facility through Google Earth.

The gate-keeper didn’t allow the photographer to enter the facility. Dawn contacted the in-charge of the facility, Sindh Football Association (SFA) treasurer Rahim Baksh Baloch who said that he wouldn’t allow anyone in “without PFF’s permission”.

“I will only let you in if you have permission from the PFF,” Baloch said. What was he hiding? “The building is complete and I was there an hour ago.”

But there was no sign of activity. Awarded to the PFF in 2006, the Karachi Goal Project saw FIFA spend $505,958 in its construction.

From 1999-2014, FIFA has spent $2.377million in Pakistan through its Goal projects. That saw Pakistan ranked 17th overall in the list of countries where most funds were spent by world’s football governing body, according to Reuters.

In recent articles, Dawn has reiterated several times that the project in Karachi will be inaugurated later this year — something that even the in-charge of the project agrees to.

“The facility will be officially inaugurated with a tournament most likely in August this year,” Baloch informed.

THE facility was found locked on Thursday with no one present inside the building while the PFF claims that it is ‘fully functional’.—White Star
THE facility was found locked on Thursday with no one present inside the building while the PFF claims that it is ‘fully functional’.—White Star

When asked about the condition of the pitch at the facility, Baloch did not emphasise whether it had grass or not. “We have a playing field with goal-posts.” he said.

From the outside, it seems that there is no grass with vast expanse of sand at the back of the facility. “There are no issues with the water supply but there is no supply of electricity in the area,” added Baloch.

The flowering beds and plantations as well as the parking area, which was part of the original plan, is also absent.

The funds by FIFA, it seems, were only for the construction of the training centre building. Maybe the PFF will ask for an artificial turf from FIFA in another Goal Project.

That seems very unlikely though with long-serving FIFA president Sepp Blatter resigning. The Goal Projects are widely regarded as Blatter’s pet project and have come under fire as a tool for the Swiss to garner support.

There has been no information conveyed by the PFF in recent past that it has held any sort of training programme at the facility yet it claims it is “fully functional”.

Published in Dawn, June 12th, 2015

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