|(Football) Pakistan street children score dream goals
Not a cricket bat in sight. Instead, a taste of the “Maracana'' atmosphere as Pakistani and Indian street children met Tuesday at the Street Child World Cup in Rio in Brazil.
(Pictured, Pakistan’s players meet Brazilian former footballer Jose Roberto Gama de Oliveira aka Bebeto, in yellow shirt in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil).
The result, a thumping 13-0 win for the Pakistanis, was immaterial, team delegations stressed, as they eschewed traditional rivalries.
Star of the show was 15-year-old Raziq Mushtaq, who bagged 8 goals to leave the Indian defense in tatters.
“I am very happy to score eight goals. I have always dreamed of being a footballer,'' beamed Raziq.
“But I never dreamed of playing an event in Brazil, the land of football,'' said the youngster, the pick of a selection spotted by non-profit charity Azad Foundation which rehabilitates street children in Karachi.
India won the inaugural event in Durban four years ago, but were no match for a side which outmuscled them at the “Maracana,'' one of the pitches at the Vargen Pequena complex in Rio's western suburbs.
Robbed of a triple hattrick only by the crossbar, Raziq said the tournament was the opportunity of a lifetime for him and another 230 children, boys and girls.
“This is about giving street children a future, said Syed Iftan Maqbool of the Azad Foundation – slogan, 'unity through competition.'
Maqbool put the team through their paces before and after the game, haranguing his charges for missing their “target'' of 15 goals.
“You have to set the bar high,'' he told AFP with a smile ahead of a 2-0 afternoon success over Kenya.
Syed Farrukh E Bokhari, supporting the Pakistani charity in London, said street children suffered in that they often had no personal documentation from birth and were seen as non-persons.
“In these cases, the government should become a guardian. They should facilitate that.
“A child should not need a piece of paper to say 'I am someone.' He is who he is. I am who I am.''