Even though Pakistan Super League (PSL) franchise Peshawar Zalmi lost out in the play-offs to Islamabad United, the highlight of the tournament for the Shahid Afridi-led side was the inclusion of 150 Army Public School (APS) students for duration of the competition.
The students who suffered in APS tragedy of 2014 featured regularly in the stands, cheering for Zalmis in all of their matches. Along with this, the schoolchildren also held sessions with team players during both on and off-the-field activities.
All the students were flown in to UAE by the franchise’s management on February 4, where they were greeted by team players and UAE royal’s staff.
APS survivors receive royal protocol in UAE
Batsman Mohammad Hafeez, who was one of the players waiting at the airport, said that it was an honour and a privilege for him to greet the young ones. “Someone asked me I would have to wait for three hours to receive them at the airport, but for me that was a privilege,” said Hafeez.
According to team owner Javed Afridi, it was their mission to include the victims of APS tragedy into the squad’s activities. “It was our mission to include these students in the tournament; representing the city of Peshawar,” said Javed Afridi.
Zalmi’s brand ambassador Hamza Ali Abbasi claimed that interacting with students who suffered during the APS tragedy and watching them smile and cheer for the Peshawar-based franchise was one of the best experiences he had. “One of the biggest perks of being Peshawar Zalmi’s brand ambassador was the experience I had with APS victims, watching them having the time of their lives,” he said. “They were they only people with whom I wanted to take a selfie because they are my heroes.”
150 APS students leave for Dubai to attend PSL inauguration ceremony
The students stayed at Crowne Plaza Dubai - Deira and engaged with team players in their training sessions as well as in extracurricular activities. They lauded the efforts of team management to bring them out to UAE and thanked them for the enjoyable experience. “Javed Afridi was very down to earth and asked us if we were comfortable,” said one student. “He did his best to accommodate us.”
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