Don’t rain on my football game

The footballing community in Karachi is praying that rains do not come this week otherwise they may be out of commission for a long time.

Mohd Khanani August 10, 2010
Following heavy rains across Pakistan it seems that Karachi's turn has finally come to face an onslaught of rain. While most Karachiites are worried about their safety and homes during the rain, the small footballing community has other things on its mind. With less then a week until Ramazan, footballers across the city are hitting the field on a daily basis  as they will have to put the game on hold for a month during Ramazan. But these last few days may also be football deprived days as rain looks set to hit Karachi.

Up to 90 per cent of the grounds in Karachi are mud grounds and so almost all footballing is paralysed even with slight rains due to the flooding of the grounds. No club in Karachi has the equipment to drain the water out and so, after the rains, the grounds are left flooded for days. It takes week for the ground to return to a usable state and also costs a lot of money. According to one of the people I spoke to, it costs around Rs 15,000 to prepare the ground. This is an amount which most of the people involved in football can not afford to pay.

The week before Ramazan is also a critical time for football organisers as it is the time to wrap up their tournaments. More then 25 finals are scheduled for the next five days with six finals being held on Sunday alone. One of the organisers said he was very worried as his final was supposed to be held at the end of July but the rains caused a delay and then the target killings resulted in a further delay. He said that they have finally decided on Sunday but if it rains again he may not be able to afford the repairs and will have to conclude the tournament without a winner.

Bigger organisers also have problems; if they fail to finish their tournaments on time they may lose sponsors and have to cover their expenses themselves. While sponsors are usually bound by a contract in international football, that is not the case here.

Fahad, who running a tournament in Lyari, said that the sponsors promise to pay money up front but only give money at the end if they are satisfied. He said that as Pakistani football is not very popular, these are a restricted number of sponsors and so they have to take the risk.

The largest problem is faced by clubs who are preparing for night tournaments in Ramazan or for tournaments that are to start immediately after Ramazan. According to the captain of one of the teams, they play tournament matches during Ramazan after taraweeh but can not practice in Ramazan as the booking grounds in the night is very expensive. The captain was worried said  if the team could not train over the next few days they may not be able to win matches in Ramazan.

The footballing community in Karachi is praying that rains do not come this week otherwise they may be out of commission for a long time.
Mohd Khanani The founder and president of Fanats FC and the youngest D-Certificate football coach ever, Mohammad writes on local football issues.
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