Legendary footballer Michael Owen set to visit Pakistan for PFL launch event

Owen has been appointed as the Ambassador of PFL

May 21, 2024
Michael Owen is a former England footballer. - AFP

LONDON: The Pakistan Football League (PFL) is slated to be launched on June 4 in Lahore where legendary England footballer Michael Owen will be the chief guest.

The PFL launch in Lahore will see the participation of more than 25-member foreign delegation including Mike Farnan, CEO Redstrike, Davide Gomes of SL Benfica, Luis Miguel de Sousa Santos Reis of SL Benfica and Sky News football pundit Alison Bender.

Owen has been appointed as the Ambassador of Pakistan Football League.

The launch event is being organised by PFL UK Holdings, a UK based group which says it is fully committed to oversee the delivery of Pakistan Football League (PFL), leading to the investment of tens of millions of dollars.

PFL UK Holdings has been set up by Farhan Ahmed Junejo as its Chairman, Ahmer Kunwar as its President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and other leading investors from the United Kingdom (UK) and United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Farhan Junejo commented that PFL UK Holdings is the founding pillar and architect of international football in Pakistan with the strategic intent to drive foreign development investment.

“The group will harness its international relationships to develop football in Pakistan for Pakistan. We will implement international standards whilst also making football accessible to all who wish to engage and get involved with the world's most loved game,” Junejo said.

“Football is a school for a better life. PFL’s charter and commitment is to social and educational development in football in Pakistan. Football 4 Hope will integrate all four provinces in Pakistan to make football accessible for all without any discrimination and equality as a founding pillar. From an impromptu game in mud-slinging slums, to kicking the ball on top of the mountains, to the wilderness of the game on the streets all over Pakistan to development in schools and academies to competitiveness in stadiums football has the power to instil confidence, pride in the underdog and promote togetherness which unites the nation to play and play in hope irrespective of where it is played.”

Junejo said there is no other game like football as one ball and 22 players get a game of football anywhere in the world.

“We have prepared to flood the nation with 100,000 free footballs to bring joy and happiness to the children of the lost generations – kick a ball and use the power of the game to a better life,” he said.

Organisers say PFL will bring together the best footballing talent from across Pakistan, offering players a platform to showcase their skills, compete at the highest level, and fulfil their dreams. They say the PFL is not just about football; it’s about uniting communities, celebrating diversity, and promoting a positive sporting culture.

Farhan Junejo said that £1 billion dollar investment in the sports industry is planned and interest from Gulf countries is also growing in the sports field.

“We are planning investment into football stadiums, football training centres and training of football players in international clubs is going to be very easy,” he said.

PFL Chairman Farhan Ahmed Junejo. - Photo by author

Junejo shared that his team’s mission is to change the ecosystem of sports of football in Pakistan.

“Our target is to put Pakistan on the world’s soccer map. It includes league matches, training of children and players by international coaches in Pakistan, training of professionals in the world’s reputed international clubs like Benfica and other renowned clubs of Europe and building a soccer city. In this delegation, we are bringing top experts and companies who have done similar work in the United Kingdom, Italy, Turkey, UAE, Portugal, Vietnam and Qatar.

“This is a mission to change the mind of our children to associate them with sports rather than crimes. This is a mission to give them hope for a better future. We are starting this mission by our initiative of One Smile: One Ball. You give us a smile and we give you a world class standard ball. Football and other sports are the only way to keep our children involved in healthy and positive activity and to bring them discipline and financial empowerment. We don’t want our children to go to Europe in ships but we want our children to go in private jets.”

Junejo said that Benfica has already agreed to take 100 children and players each year from Pakistan to their reputed world class training academy in Lisbon, Portugal.

“This initiative can unite the whole country by bridging the divide. Our teams are already reaching out from far flung areas of North including Gilgit Baltistan, Azad Kashmir to Quetta, Gwadar, Malir and Lyari. Only three days of talent hunting in a poor neighbourhood brought more than 5,000 children to show their talent,” Junejo concluded.