ISLAMABAD - Newly-elected Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) President Syed Ashfaq Hussian has vowed to raise Pakistan football from ashes and take it to new heights.

Talking to The Nation, Ashfaq said he would establish academies at district level and appoint top class local coaches to impart training to the promising talent and transform them into champions. “To implement these things, I will go to each and every footballer, administrator and request him to join hands for the sake of Pakistan and its football. I will ensure districts and divisions will be onboard and they will be provided sufficient funds. If I fail to deliver, I will quit.”

He said a question is being raised that presently, football league has been going on, whether it will be continued or abolished. “I have a full team of three vice presidents, executive committee and the congress, so we will sit and make a unanimous decision, but one thing is clear that we have come with a slogan to promote football as well as players. I will request my team to not only continue the present league, but also start work on war-footings to take football to each and every corner of the country.”

He said as far as FIFA and AFC are concerned and people, who are constantly creating an environment that world and Asian football governing bodies will not accept the elections and will see it is an intervention from government, it is totally rubbish and nothing to do with actual ground reality. “If government wanted to interfere or hijacked the election process, then how the nomination papers of a sitting government MNA could have rejected, how a powerful former MPA Zahir Shah would have not contested president elections.

“It is clear that a humble person like me was supported by powerful Malik Amir Dogar, Syed Zahir Shah, Sardar Naved Haider, IFA President Chaudhry Saleem, Secretary Syed Sharafat Hussian Bukhari, all the departments and former football players, provinces, referees association and women champions Army. They also stood right behind me for just one noble cause of focusing and finding ways and means to take Pakistan football to new heights,” he added.

The new PFF head said their top priority is the country and its football. “FIFA and AFC have always been presented one side of the story. The former president had always used FIFA and AFC as threatening tool and blackmailed governments by saying the football governing bodies would impose ban on Pakistan for participating in international events. Firstly, for last several years, Pakistan football team has hardly been taking part in any major or minor international tournament and secondly, I am optimistic that FIFA and AFC want to promote the game, not certain individuals.

“We will follow all FIFA/AFC rules and regulations in true letter and spirit and make good relations with them based on respect and equality. We will become their arms, help them with best contributions and show them we are capable enough of implementing FIFA/AFC orders as per their wishes,” he added.

He said he wants to say a special thanks to Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar, Returning Officer and Director General Supreme Court Human Rights for ensuring free, fair and transparent elections. “Without Supreme Court support, the elections could have not been held in such cordial and transparent manner. I assure Prime Minister Imran Khan of doing work according to his vision.

“We also want to help Pakistan football rise. It hurts when we see Pakistan is lying at 204 out of 213 countries in FIFA rankings. It’s a shame, as a country, which has more than 60 percent population based on youth, can’t produce even handful of footballers,” he added.

“I request PM Imran to spare some time for PFF delegation as we want to inform him about our plans. I also request FIFA and AFC to send representatives to Pakistan and check the actual ground reality rather than banking on disinformation,” Ashfaq concluded.