Generation Amazing ambassador launches football academy in Pakistan
Generation Amazing ambassador Zaheer Khattak grew up in the Pakistani city of Thatta with a dream of playing professional football. However, due to limited opportunities, Khattak was forced to neglect his footballing ambitions.
Khattak started playing football aged ten. He honed his skills in street football before joining a local club. But during his eight years with the team, Khattak wasn’t given a chance to make the progress he desired.
Frustrated by his position, Khattak decided to launch his own club. Soon after, the Makhdoom Child Academy was born – and it focused on giving underprivileged and disabled children the chance to play football and reach their potential.
Khattak now works with up to 23 young children on a weekly basis. As well as enjoying playing football, the participants learn key life skills thanks to the Generation Amazing programme which inspired Khattak. The academy promotes inclusiveness, while keeping a keen eye on cultural sensitivities – which have led to separate sessions being organised for groups of girls and boys.
“They come to play football and we organise a tournament,” said Khattak, who works as an engineer and runs the academy in his spare time. “Children don't always have the chance to play football, so I thought why don’t I make an academy for them? Now I have many children and they are playing football and learning life skills.”
Being involved with Generation Amazing has helped Khattak carry his project forward. It has provided him with football for development training and given him new and meaningful ways to keep the children engaged. The football matches and tournaments he organises are regularly attended by more than 40 participants.
In December 2019, Khattak travelled to Qatar for the inaugural Generation Amazing Festival, where he participated in workshops about football for development and also learned about football3 methodology – something he’s already implementing in his academy.
“We use both standard skills and Generation Amazing methods in our training activities with the children,” said Khattak. “The training and workshops during the festival were really useful for me and I’m now sharing my learnings back home.”
For Khattak, it’s important that children can stay off the streets and away from drugs and crime – and his academy is helping to ensure that. As for his ultimate goal – he hopes the academy will one day help a player reach the top of the sport.
Khattak said: “My dream is to see a member of the academy play top-level international football.”#GenerationAmazing