KARACHI: Leisure Leagues on Tuesday unveiled the trophy, playing kits and a portion of the theme song for the two exhibition football matches to be played by FC Barcelona’s Ronaldinho and other professional international footballers in Karachi and Lahore over the coming weekend.

Leisure Leagues had announced back in March that they wanted to revive and kick-start football activity in Pakistan in a grand way by inviting football’s greats such as Ronaldinho, Roberto Carlos, Nicolas Anelka, Robert Pires, Luis Boa Morte, David James, George Boateng and John Terry to Pakistan to play two exhibition matches on July 8 and 9.

Though John Terry won’t be able to make it now due to prior engagements and his joining Aston Villa, there was a surprise in store for football lovers in Ryan Giggs now agreeing to come to Pakistan and add to the star-studded line-up.

Both players, Terry airing his disappointment to for not being able to make it and Giggs looking forward to the action were shared on the big screen via Skype.

According to Ishaq Shah, COO, Leisure Leagues Pakistan, the eight players will be distributed in two sides, four in each team with Ronaldinho captaining one side and Giggs the other.

“Pakistan’s national players, including Kaleemullah Khan, will also be a part of the teams along with the young talent of Pakistan, some 29 kids from Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad who play football for Leisure Leagues,” he said.

Shahzeb Trunkwala, president of the World Group, stated, “It is a great honour to see this initiative coming to life. It is a great time for Pakistan as a nation to be hosting players of this stature in the country.”

Later, kits for the two teams—blue and white with Ronaldinho and No 10 on the back, and green and white with Giggs and No 11 on the back—were unveiled followed by the unveiling of the sparkling trophy made of Swarovski crystal in Australia.

Addressing at the occasion, Ammar Ahmed, head of marketing, Near East, HMD said, “As the title sponsors of the mega event, we feel privileged to unveil the glittering trophy of Nokia Ronaldinho & Friends.

“These matches featuring international players from across the globe not only sends a clear message that Pakistan is a sports loving country, but also provides us with an opportunity to raise the bar for football in Pakistan.” he added.

‘Dunya Paas Mein/Hum Khelein Saath Mein’ (We play together with the world on our side), the theme song for the event celebrating the spirit of football in Pakistan, is sung by Ali Azmat and Momina Mustehsan.

“It is a high-energy anthem with simple sing-along lyrics,” said Ali Azmat.

The first exhibition match in Karachi will be played at the Abdul Sattar Edhi Hockey Stadium on July 8 and the second one at the Fortress Stadium in Lahore on July 9.

Published in Dawn, July 5th, 2017

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