KARACHI: It was an unusual evening at the school set up in Central Jail, Karachi, on Tuesday. Instead of the usual silence, there were shouts of ‘Hurrah!’, ‘Goal!’, ‘Outside!’ and ‘Foul!’ as young inmates, sporting blue and green jerseys, participated in a football game.
To the delight of all the young offenders, the Legal Aid Office (LAO) in collaboration with the Karachi United Football Club organised the game in which four teams of juvenile prisoners participated in two football matches.
Talking to The Express Tribune, LAO Chairperson Justice Nasir Aslam Zahid said that they organised the football training programme for these prisoners to bring out their passion for the sports. “[We organised the event] so that when they are released, they must take interest in sports and other recreational activities rather than engaging in criminal activities,” he said.
He added that a training camp for the kids is organised once in a week, which helps enhance their skills even further. He said it is important for them to participate in recreational activities as living in isolation in the prison for years can disturb their minds as well.
Meanwhile, Karachi United Football Club CEO Imran Ali said they have been training kids at their club, which was founded in 1996. “But training these juveniles here is a different experience,” he said. He added that we could at least make their focus turn to sports and play our part in this positive cause. The kits, jerseys and shoes were also provided to them by our club, he said.
“We started training these juveniles exactly a month ago,” said the programme manager of the club, Talib Hussain. “A total 181 juveniles showed interest and came forward for the trials. We finally shortlisted 51 of these [for the game].”
Responding to a question about their talent, Hussain said that while one cannot expect that these children can play at national or international levels, they can surely polish their skills through practice and commitment.
He added that most of the talent in the city is found in Korangi, Lyari and Malir and most of these kids belong to these areas, which is why they are talented. All we are doing here is generating passion in these kids for the love of the game, he said. “Later, it is up to them if they pursue it after release. But at least it will help them in the process of rehabilitation.”