ISLAMABAD – “Pakistan is a sports loving nation and I am impressed with the facilities, preparations which were made for the hosting of the AFC Under-14 Football Festival in Pakistan at Pakistan Sports Complex from April 3 to 17.”

AFC Festival Project Manager John Whittle expressed these views in a press conference here at Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) media centre on Friday.

"Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) is doing a remarkable job especially from the last four years and I am sure, Pakistan will organise the Asian Under-14 Football Festival in a befitting manner as the arrangements are looking up to the mark and by April 2 everything would be in shape."

He further said that a total of seven countries including Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Iran and hosts Pakistan would participate in the championship.

When asked about the role of the AFC regarding helping out under-14 level exceptional kids and grooming them to world class level and arranging some kind of international exposure for them, he said the AFC did not have such kind of plans and it was the duty of respective federations to find, groom and nourish the raw talent.

"As there is no major league system exists in Pakistan, but they can take their brilliant talent forward through taking part in Challenge Cup, President's Cup, Olympic qualifiers and then even go on to play in the world cup qualifiers. By going through that procedure Pakistan can help out its talented youngsters," he added.

When this scribe asked John about the security issue and security arrangements being made at the PSB, he replied: "I have been here for three days. I have visited the facilities and I am quite satisfied with all the arrangements and already looking forward to witness a successful and memorable AFC Under-14 Football Festival in Islamabad."