RAWALPINDI - The Shahposh Strikers Cricket Club and Academy was inaugurated here Saturday at the Gulzar-e-Quaid with the purpose of providing international standard facilities to the local youth.

Rawalpindi region head coach Sabih Azhar, Test cricketer Umar Amin, academy chairman Chaudhry Nasir, president Arsalan Nasir, a large number of presidents and secretaries of different clubs of Rawalpindi and cricket lovers were present on the occasion.

It was a very encouraging sign as despite traffic jam and roads closure, kids turned up in quite numbers to get them registered in the academy. Around 100 kids of the city were present to appear for trials. Around 60 will be selected for the first phase, while 40 more will be added in next couple of weeks as the academy has strength of accommodating 100 kids at a time.

Talking to The Nation, Sabih Azhar lauded the efforts of academy chairman Ch Nasir and president Arsalan Nasir for providing Rawalpindi youth a place where they could learn the latest techniques of cricket from renowned cricket coaches. “It is an appreciable initiative taken by the organisers who not only provided a huge space for the academy, but also ensured cricket gears, balls and even meal for the players free of cost. “Due to acute shortage of cricket grounds in region, the local kids had to cover long distances but launch of this academy will prove a blessing for poor and backward youth of the area, as now they will completely focus on applying their trade under highly conducive environment and without paying a single penny.

“The region has tremendous talent but there was not a single academy where youth could go and join to learn cricket techniques, but with launch of this academy, their miseries came to an end. Being a head coach of the region, it is my responsibility to provide every help the academy administration needs from me. I will keep on visiting the academy on regular basis and will take the bright kids to Pindi Stadium, who will be recommended to me by the academy admin,” he added.

He said he was deeply impressed by the passion, dedication and noble thinking of the organisers behind launching of the academy. “These days it is very hard to arrange such facilities but Shahposh Strikers Academy is providing all the stuff free of cost. Now I am quite sure we will soon be able to produce a number of quality players, who will represent the country one day.”

“The academy’s location is ideal as a number of residential colonies are adjacent to Gulzar-e-Quaid which are filled with talented youth. The organizers are focusing on poor and backward youth, and I strongly believe players from such areas play passionately and do wonders at higher level,” Sabih concluded.

Sharing his views, academy chairman Ch Nasir said: “Helping the youth of the country in best possible way is my passion. As I have a backward background and couldn’t enjoy high-level facilities, so I decided to provide such facilities to poor youth so that they may enjoy the game fully and help the country earn good name. I got this huge land worth millions of rupees just for the noble cause of helping the youth of my area.”  He added: “We have been mainly focusing on passing on the benefits to the lower middle class. After achieving our first goal, we will spread the academy branches to other parts of the city. We have hired top coaches on hefty salaries who will impart the latest techniques to the players. At first stage, we have hired Ashfaq as head coach and we will hire more as well. I am happy to witness such a number of youth turning out on the first day. We will also try to pay some monthly stipends to the deserving players.”

Sharing his views, academy president Arsalan said: “I was very passionate about playing cricket, but when I came to Rawalpindi, I found there were not many clubs where I could join and learn basics about cricket. There were hardly one or two places, but those were pack to capacity. I made up my mind to help the depressed class by establishing an international standard academy which with the prayers of my family and friends I managed to fulfill.”

When asked about any kind of contract or bidding with the players as Shahposh would invest heavily on them, Arsalan replied: “No, we don't need to sign any contract with the kids, as we don't want to bar them. It is my mission so we don't start academy for personal favours. If someone wants to leave and join the academy or club of his liking, he will be free to do so. I am grateful to Sabih Azhar, Umar Amin and others who graced the occasion by sparing their precious time.”