Sunday, 28 November 2021

Thought Pakistan Was All About Cricket: Ronaldinho, Ryan Giggs


LAHORE: A cricket-crazed nation went ballistic over football this weekend, thanks to Brazilian football superstar, Ronaldinho’s three-day visit to Pakistan.

He and several other renowned international footballers including England’s David James, Holland’s Geroge Boateng, Manchester United former player, Ryan Giggs, former French midfielder, Robert Pires and Portugal’s Luis Boa Morte, came to Pakistan to play exhibition matches in Karachi and Lahore, respectively.

They attended the opening ceremony at the Abdul Sattar Edhi Hockey Stadium in Karachi, followed by a second match at Fortress Stadium, Lahore.

The citizens of Karachi went crazy on meeting one of their favourite athletes and the list extends to celebrities who were at the venue to celebrate the occasion with international players.

Coke Studio sensation Momina Mustehsan also took to Instagram and shared a selfie with the star footballer.

The players had a great time in Pakistan and they were all praises for the country. During a press conference, they stressed that Pakistan “is a safe country for sports activities.” This is a good time for authorities to shake things up a bit further.

Amongst the celebrities were Momina Mustehsan, Ali Azmat, Muzna Ebrahim, Zainab Abbas and a few others.

World famous footballers Ronaldinho and Ryan Giggs returned from Pakistan on Sunday night, expressing surprise at the “passion” for the game in a cricket-crazy country. The two footballers were in Pakistan on a two-day visit with five other international stars to play in two exhibition matches in Karachi and Lahore organised by the Leisure League.

 “I think the security was excellent and we thought that Pakistan was only a cricket loving nation but after our visit we know they are as passionate about football as well,” Ronaldinho said through an interpreter in Lahore.
While the security arrangements for the footballers stay in Pakistan and the matches were manned by the Pakistan Army but the other organisational aspects of the matches came in for some criticism on the social media.
Pakistani cricketers, Azhar Ali and Hasan Ali, who visited the Fortress Stadium Lahore for the second match on Sunday, said the arrangements could have been better.
Leisure League and World Group of Companies put on sale ticket ranging from 2000 to 30,000 Pakistani rupees with many people complaining they couldn’t get into the stadium in Karachi and then in Lahore due to organisational hassles.

Pakistan has been deprived off major international sporting events ever since terrorists attacked the Sri Lanka cricket team bus in Lahore in 2009.

Different sports bodies have made attempts to invite international players and teams to Pakistan including the Pakistan Cricket Board but with marginal success.

Giggs, the former Manchester United great, too was surprised at the passion for football in Pakistan.

“I was surprised by the love and passion the Pakistani people have for football and I see they have interesting talent as well which only needs proper grooming and coaching,” he said.

Giggs and Ronaldinho praise Pakistan after football tour

Ryan Giggs and Brazilian superstar Ronaldinho were full of praise for Pakistan following their visit to the country.

Former Manchester United winger Ryan Giggs and football legend Ronaldinho visited Pakistan for a two-match exhibition series along with Robert Pires, Nicolas Anelka, David James and Luis Boa Morte.

The series was organised to boost sports in the country.
Giggs, who retired from international football in 2014, said he was impressed by Pakistan’s love for football and much to the delight of his audience, he fluently said ‘Pakistan Zindabad.’

He also said, “Football is huge here especially with the younger generation.


“I think Pakistan are at 200 in the world, so to bring it down you need infrastructure and also the best coaches in the world to teach the players how to play.”

Ronaldinho posted a video on his official Twitter account, thanking Karachi for the warm welcome.

He told reporters he was on a “goodwill mission” aimed at inspiring youngsters to play the game.

In a statement, Ronaldinho, 37, said, “I am excited at the prospect of playing in Pakistan.

“This is a great opportunity for us to induce youngsters in Pakistan and we will do our best to do that.”

The event was organized by Leisure Leagues Pakistan, which said the purpose behind bringing football stars like Ronaldinho and Giggs to Pakistan was to promote the sport in the country and portray its positive image.

Qamar Bajwa, Pakistan’s military chief said, “Sports promote peace and your visit is most welcomed by all Pakistanis, especially young footballers.”



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