ISLAMABAD - Fata Olympic Association (FOA) president Shahid Khan Shanwari, who is also Fata Football Association (FFA) chief, has claimed that Peshawar and Fata are now safer than Islamabad for holding all kinds of sporting activities.

Talking to The Nation, Shahid said the inaugural edition of the Fata Super Football League is set to start from September 27 at Qayyum Sports Complex Peshawar and carries more than Rs 1.5 million as cash award. “Rs 1 million kits and a total of Rs 4 million will be spent on the league, which also attracts two players each from Indonesia and Malaysia. Top Pakistani players will also be seen in action.

“Representing various clubs, in all 12 teams would take part in the championship, 7 outsiders and 8 Fata players would represent each team, we are trying to conduct matches in South Waziristan and Bajaur Agency as well, we are highly grateful to tyre giant  Bridgestone International Japan President Takuma Kakuucei for not only arriving in Islamabad to unveil the trophy on 13th at a local hotel, but he also provided hefty Rs 1 million sponsor to Fata Olympic Association to conduct the event, while two other sponsors also contributed Rs 1.5 million,” he added.

He said they would not only provide accommodation, meal and security, but also give TA/DA to the outstation players. “The basic aim of inviting foreign sponsorship is to involve international giants and show them the soft and sports loving image of the Fata and tribal areas. I can easily claim that Fata and Peshawar are safe and secure and can host all kinds of international events. Forty seven percent youth resides in tribal areas and we want to provide them with a platform where they could showcase their skills and show the world that we are not trouble-makers but we are actually sports loving nation.”

Shahid said he was grateful to Islamabad Football Association (IFA) president Ch Saleem, secretary Syed Sharafat Bukhari, former PFF information secretary Rana Tanveer Ahmed, PSF and IPC minister Riaz Pirzada for arranging the press conference and providing facilities in such a short notice.

“I can assure that the grounds will be packed to capacity, as the frontier youth and people from all walks of life love soccer and know how to welcome the guests. It is highly injustice to the youth that very meager amount is allocated for sports events in Fata, which is too less to run day-to-day affairs. I am grateful to former KP Governor Engineer Shoukatullah, who established separate Olympic Association for Fata. I am firm supporter of merger of Fata into KP, as it will enhance not only sports budget, but also provide opportunities to the Fata youth to serve the country and win laurels for it,” he added.

He said Rs 0.5 million would be given to the winning team, runners-up to get Rs 0.3 million while Rs 25,000 each to be given to the best player of the tournament, best scorer and best goalkeeper. The 12 participating teams are Khyber Eagles, Bajaur Star, Faqir EPI NWF, Waziristan Panthers, Khyber Green Zalmi, Shinwari FC, Malik Saad Falcon, Al-Haj Group, FAW United, Jamrud United, Kurram Shaheen and Ghazi Ajab Khan. The teams are divided into four pools, as each pool has 3 teams while 2 each will qualify for the quarterfinals.

“It will be great fanfare and festivity all around. We will invite Rawalpindi Islamabad Sports Journalists Association (RISJA) members to come and cover the event. I would like to request all sports lovers of the country to come and witness the occasion and support the noble cause of taking the deserving youth of the country onboard and providing them with their due right. I am sure the soccer lovers will love the environment and this event will be remembered for the years to come,” Shahid concluded.