Street children off to a winning start in Norway

National football team registers 1-0 victory in first Youth Cup match.

Natasha Raheel July 28, 2014

KARACHI: Pakistan’s Street Child World Cup bronze-medal winning team made an impressive start at the Norway Football Youth Cup in Oslo as they defeated local club Lambertseter 1-0 in their first match on Sunday.

The squad, sponsored by the Azad Foundation, is competing in Group B of the U16 event.

Currently they sit in second place with three points, behind local club Finnsnes IL Fotball.

According to Azad Foundation official Syed Irfan Maqbool, the team was invited by the Norwegian-Pakistani community.

Norway Cup is the world’s biggest youth football tournament, attracting more than 1,500 teams each year in different boys and girls events in the U12 to U19 competitions.

The Pakistan’s Street Child World Cup squad in Rio was a seven-member team; however, in the Norway Cup, Pakistan is competing in a full 11-a-side tournament.

Maqbool said that three coaches worked with the team for a month, and he is hopeful that they can end the campaign on a high.

Pakistan will compete against Batnfjord/Reinsfjell FC on Monday and their last group match will take place on July 29 against Finnsnes IL Fotball.

‘Playing is more important than Eid’

Although the team will play its last group match on Eidul Fitr, footballer Meher Ali’s mother Aziza Bibi said that her son’s achievements matter more than having him spend the occasion with his family.

“It’s important that he wins the match,” Aziza told The Express Tribune. “I’m proud of my son. He was away from home for 40 days before going to this tournament.

“I don’t even know which country he went to, but I know that these youngsters and my son can raise Pakistan’s flag up high. Not having my son around on Eid is not something I like, but as a family we want to support him and wish him well.”

Published in The Express Tribune, July 28th, 2014.

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