Contributed by: Brett Northey
Thanks to Zain Nabi for the following article.
Pakistan Shaheen Team Manager Kashif Bouns has welcomed the overwhelming response from the Pakistani community in Australia, particularly the students, who have strongly backed the idea of entering the 2014 Australia Football League International Cup.
Following submission of nomination papers with the AFL, the Shaheens are now in the team building phase. Bouns believes students will play a handy role in forming a competitive unit. “I think the core of the team will be international students because the majority of Pakistanis here are students,” he says.
Apart from hiring athletes, the Shaheens are also shaping their organisational infrastructure and they have urged the Pakistani community here to participate in all the possible ways, and take up the ownership of this project.
“I have just floated the idea and can use my expertise wherever required,” says Bouns, but “I want the community to decide all the matters and have their say in the decision-making process. I can shape their opinion, but not control it.”
But that does not mean that anyone can attempt to influence or criticise the developments taking place in the process of structuring the organisation. The Shaheens have sternly made it clear that they would only value those who show proper commitment towards the project.
“We will welcome people of all age groups and they can play their role in any way they want, but we also need commitment from them,” says Bouns.
The AFL International Cup is organised every three years. The first tournament took place in 2002 and till now the sport has gained worldwide popularity. The hosting nation Australia does not compete in the cup and the competition is only open for international teams. Pakistan has never been represented in the competition and the Shaheens are hopeful of achieving a milestone by playing in the cup.
However, the task is not going to be easy as the Shaheens are confronted with a lot of challenges. They have to clear many hurdles before they can fly high.
But these difficulties are not going to deter the spirit of the students, says Atif Hameed, President Pakistani Students Association Australia. Hameed recognises the challenges faced by the Shaheens but has immense faith in the potential of Pakistani students.
“I am neither denying that we will not face challenges nor saying the road is not going to be tough, but when there is a country name involved I think people become so passionate and emotional that they get strength to achieve anything they want. I personally think that they take it as a mission,” Hameed believes.
The PSAA has extended a wholehearted support behind the Shaheens. According to Hameed, this is a very big and proud development not just for students but for the entire Pakistani community. He hopes to see the Shaheens performing well and winning the competition.
“The response from the Pakistani community is very good. Everyone is happy and eagerly waiting for the event. It is matter of pride for them. We are very hopeful and passionate about it, and we believe that we will definitely get good results.”
Meanwhile, Richard Kerbatieh, who has been an active promoter of the AFL in different multicultural groups, has joined the Shaheens as assistant coach. The first training session was Sunday, 15th September, and the Shaheens have even been treated to a session at Carlton's Princes Park.
See their Facebook page for ongoing information.
World Footy News