Karachi: A group of children aged 5-6 run joyfully to the middle Leari street, in search of football. Their older brother is taking a break.
Lyari, an impoverished area of narrow streets and multi-storey buildings in the southern port of Karachi, is often referred to as Pakistan’s “mini-Brazil” – because of the local residents’ love of football.
Layari’s football craze is a highlight of Ramadan. Young people play football in both formal and informal settings.
In the Lyari District of Karachi (Pakistan), young men play football amid multi-storey buildings. (Photo by SA Babar
“I’m impatiently waiting for Ramadan because it has a lot of football matches,” Usman Tariq (a teenager player) told Arab News at Emad’s local coaching football academy.
They might be seen playing football but they also do drugs and commit other crimes in our area.
beberg balochOrganiser of the night-football tournament
Lyari’s football fields are small and large. Most of them were not even built properly. Many fields are filled with dust, while few have the proper turf. That doesn’t prevent anyone from having fun.
Tariq said, “In Leary you see football everywhere.” “There is a game at every place. You’ll find boys playing football on the streets.
On April 22, 2022, children play soccer in Lyari, Karachi, Pakistan. (Photo by SA Babar
Since 2013, Karachi police have been cracking down on notorious criminal gangs as well as drug gangs. The area’s football scene has seen a significant increase in comfort. Tariq stated that “we would hear explosions, and see the faces the gangsters.” “Right now, you can hear the cheering crowd and the athletes.
Zaid Abdul Latif (14 years old) said that they would run between places on Ramadan night. They also ran between Layari streets, taking part in many games.
“Sometimes, it is necessary to play four games per night in different parts Liari,” he said. “We have to catch up with the rickshaws. Some people ride bikes, some people just run from place to place.”
Pakistan is a cricket fanatic.
Its national team has never been awarded any major sporting honours, and the infrastructure is insufficient to allow for international training.
Young soccer players playing at the Emad Soccer Academy Stadium, Lyari, Karachi (Pakistan), April 22, 2022. (Photo by SA Babar
But the young Lyari talent didn’t lose heart. They visited Karachi in 2017 and received praises from football stars like Ronaldinho and Nicolas Anelka as well as Robert Pires and George Boateng.
Michael Owen, an ex-Liverpool striker and legendary footballer, arrived in Liari at the beginning of January. He described Liari as a “hotbed for football talent.”
Arab News told him that it was a great experience to see the site for myself.
Local professional football players are now more interested in Liari’s youth-focused football pitch, as Karachi has become safer.
The Gabol Stadium in Lyari in Karachi, Pakistan on April 22, 2022, hosts fans who watch the game while admiring portraits of international players. (Photo by SA Babar
Waseem, a former player and tournament organizer, said that they will travel from all parts of the city to play at Leari. Beberg Baloch, the organizer of the night soccer tournament, stated that Ramadan matches are held at 16 venues and dozens more smaller ones.
“You can also find soccer matches on hundreds more streets,” he said.
“You may see them playing football. But when they play football they do drugs and commit other crimes that are relevant to our community.”