From the Atlético Academy to modernize football in Pakistan

The Spanish Daniel Limones He faces the challenge of modernizing Pakistani soccer after his signing as technical director of the Pakistan Federation (PFF), a country where cricket is the king and even the Prime Minister, Imran khan, is a national hero of this game imported by the former British colony.

“Give power to the figure of the coach. Empower women’s football. Long-term plans. Organize the future of football,” he summarizes in statements to Eph his objectives Lemons, who started working with the Pakistani federation this July for an initial period of six months.

As PFF technical director, all of Pakistan’s football operations will go through him and he is very clear where to start.

His first objective as technical director will be to promote and empower coaches, who are now few in a country with a population of 207 million.

After that, it will focus on the youngest. “Later we will work on a grassroots soccer work system, establishing a system and methodology throughout the country,” says the 34-year-old from Madrid.

Limones arrived in Pakistan in September 2018 to start an Atlético de Madrid soccer academy

in the city of Lahore, the first European to settle in the Asian nation.

In his period as head of the academy for the Madrid club Limones, he saw “a lot of talent” for soccer in Pakistan. “But the ecosystem is less structured and patterned than in places like Europe, the United States or Japan,” he says, which does not help the development of this sport.

“The kids who started with us (at the academy) improved by huge strides,” says Limones. Another aspect he wants to focus on is women’s football, which now has a stark month-long championship.

“The soccer players are looking forward to developing their potential,” he says.

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The chairman of the standardization committee for the PFF, Humza Khan, explains to Efe that they hope that the man from Madrid will guide the development of this sport, “from the grassroots to the structure of the national teams.”

“With his experience, we hope he will help develop a strategic plan to put Pakistan’s football on the right track,” says Khan.

Cricket is, of course, the most popular sport in Pakistan. Throughout the country children are seen playing in parks and open fields to a game that awakens in this nation the same passions as soccer in Europe.

The Pakistani national football team is ranked 200 in the FIFA world rankings and has never qualified for a World Cup.

The Pakistani first division league lasts four months and the players are not professionals. Both this competition and two other lower ones are now stopped by the coronavirus epidemic.

In addition, in recent years this sport has faced much instability due to problems in the federation. The PFF is currently chaired by a standardization committee appointed by FIFA to hold elections following internal disputes.

Even so, Limones believes football is making its way. “I believe that the next Pakistani generation, thanks to the English league and the Spanish league that are broadcast here in South Asia, will be more involved with football,” he says. “In Pakistan there is a lot of talent,” he insists.