A sports club for Manchester United fans is the push football needs in Pakistan
It was a Sunday afternoon; I was sitting at a café with my friends, watching Manchester United play against their arch rivals, Manchester City, at the theatre of dreams, Old Trafford.
It was a match of high magnitude – a win could help United finish second or they could probably even have a chance at winning the Premiership.
However, the icing on the cake was that I wasn’t watching the match just with a group of friends; rather, it was being watched at the launch of the official fan club community of Manchester United in Pakistan, a feat which was even acknowledged by Andrew Leci of Ten Sports.
Manchester United is one of the richest and biggest sports brands in the world, and their largest fan base is in Asia. The condition in Pakistan is not any different.
It was recently announced that Manchester United has around 4.5 million followers in Pakistan and different brands like Zong and Haier also support the team’s matches. Therefore, having a Manchester United fan club community in Pakistan made sense. And the number of fans who showed up for the official screening at the club simply reiterated this fact.
While talking to one of the administrators ahead of the screening, about how they started and what issues they faced in the process of getting registered, he replied saying,
“It took us one year to make the official fan club. Our fan page has existed for around seven to eight years. We have 50 official members on the board. Our plan for the future is to generate at least a 100 members, because Manchester United will send a training staff/player/ambassador to Pakistan once we reach that number.
The struggle was not easy, since there are other pages as well, but we had to adopt a different strategy as compared to them, in order to create a better page. We did that by posting in depth analysis and insights instead of having “like” and “comment” competitions. All our posts and thoughts are self-generated, which requires a lot of effort.
Now we are the most famous and only official United fan page in Pakistan – which is a great achievement. We did not think about the outcome of our work when we started, we just thought if we work with honest intentions, then we will succeed and we have finally done that.”
A prerequisite to get registered by Manchester United is to buy 50 official memberships of the Manchester United Football Club. The cost for these memberships is enormous. Most of the fans were students, unable to afford a membership that cost approximately Rs6,500.
Nevertheless, the fan club founder and administrators worked round the clock to make sure that the required numbers of kit bags were sold in order to be granted an official status. With sheer will, hard work, and dedication, the task of selling these bags was accomplished within a short period of time, and it thus helped in materialising the dream many Pakistani United fans had been waiting for quite a long time.
For a country like Pakistan, which has very limited sports and entertainment opportunities for youngsters, I personally think such initiatives are very encouraging and inspiring.
If instances like these start gaining recognition, our youth will get an opportunity to be trained by official football trainers and this, in turn, will give them the motivation to work towards their final goal – by establishing a formidable national football team.
Above all, the beautiful game of football will get the much-needed impetus in Pakistan and it will help the sports fraternity at large.