Kolkata: Tomorrow is March 5 and the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore will be hosting the final of the Pakistan Super League (PSL). If we look back, big-time cricket returns to the Pakistani soil for the first time after 2009. It’s a do-or-die situation for the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) as it is leaving no effort unexplored to successfully organise the final on which the fate of international cricket returning to Pakistan depends. Fair enough! Like in India, cricket too is a religion and a passion across the border. But what about the rest? Little were we aware of the sad demise of a 24-year-old Pakistani footballer, Muhammad Touseef Ahmed on Monday. The young lad had to breathe his last due to sheer negligence. And nobody cares, not even the federation.
The Express Tribune reports, “The 24-year-old Lesco captain passed away on Monday night in pain and in obscurity; at an age when he should’ve been approaching his footballing prime.”
If you follow Pakistani press, hardly would you find an obituary or even a mention of the demise of a talent which was considered promising. But such is the state of affairs in the sub-continent (Read India and Pakistan). So obsessed are we with cricket, that other sports are meted out a shabby treatment much to the chagrin of a dedicated sports lover. In, Ahmed’s case, it was sheer negligence as reported by the newspaper. The Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) showed indifference to the treatment of the promising footballer who finally succumbed to his knee injury, he encountered while playing for his country against Palestine in 2011. If you read up, there was sheer apathy that led to his death. But still, nobody is bothered.
“Touseef’s injury was a bad one. The federation had even released a statement that they would help him, but I guess that never happened. He was never the same player after the injury. Players should get full medical coverage from their own departments so in case they do pick up injuries then they get the best medical treatment,” said former Pakistan coach Tariq Lutfi to The Express Tribune. There are stories that Ahmed even called up PFF officials, went to Lahore and pleaded with them, but to no avail.
Pakistani footballers are not well-paid like their counterparts in cricket. There is no proper infrastructure in the country and most aspiring footballers come from poor backgrounds. There is no financial security. Compared to India, there is no Indian Super League (ISL) like tournament in the country that can raise the financial stature of the players.
And this is not the first instance, another footballer Ali Sher too died due to negligence a few weeks before Ahmed expired. Such a deplorable situation in the affairs of the PFF needs to be addressed soon and even the Government has to step in to ensure that more Ahmeds and Shers do not meet an untimely death.
But unfortunately, such is the state of non-cricketers in India and Pakistan. Yes, some sporting personalities beyond cricket do get respect in both the countries, but when it comes to the underdogs, such cases of negligence do not augur well for future sports persons to emerge. Is anybody listening?