Quetta-Lahore semi-final to take place today

Leisure League-organised event will host final on June 30 at Baloch Mujahid Football Stadium

Natasha Raheel June 29, 2018
Iran football fever spills out into streets. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: Quetta will play Lahore in the semi-final of 2018 Leisure Leagues National Championships today, as a team of miners like Jahanzaib Zehri explain what football means to them.

Leisure Leagues National Championships provide a platform to anyone to play from any walk of life giving the opportunities to the players in an already dysfunctional set-up of the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) and district bodies that come under its umbrella.

In fact, according to Jahanzaib's teammate Kashif, who travelled all the way from Mach to Quetta every weekend to play for his team, taking taxi over 120-130kms from his town, the stakes are high as the top team of Group A, ahead of Karachi, with five points.

The winner of the national championship will get the opportunity to compete in Lisbon at the 2018 Socca World Cup in September.

Quetta's competitors Lahore finished second in Group B with four points beating Islamabad for second place.

The seven-a-side tournament featured eight teams in the group stages at the Baloch Mujahid Football Stadium, while the final will take place on June 30.

According to the Leisure Leagues CEO Ishaq Shah, the response to the Leisure Leagues has been a great one and next year there can be as many as 20 teams competing at the championships.

"We may have 20 teams next time as local clubs in different cities have come to us, asking our area managers how they can be a part of it, and it is spreading," Shah told The Express Tribune during the group stage matches.

Echoing Shah's sentiment, Kashif said that for a player like him, who wants to play football regularly, the leagues are god-send.

"We want to play football. In Balochistan we love football, but we don't have enough tournaments and matches,” said Kashif.

Meanwhile, Jahanzaib, who works in the coal mines, added that his regular day includes playing football after work and Leisure Leagues has been a way for him to continue his passion for the sport.

On the other hand, all the seven teams coming from Quetta, Peshawar, Islamabad, Lahore, Mardan, Hyderabad and Qilla Saifullah travelled to Karachi for the event.

The host city represented by Khyber Muslim will take on Group B toppers Peshawar's Shinwari FC in the other semi-final.

The matches will be aired live on TV.


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