LAHORE – Brazilian football superstar, Ronaldinho and other renowned 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 have termed Pakistan “a safe country” for hosting sports events and called upon foreign teams to visit the country.

They expressed these views while addressing a press conference here on Sunday at a local hotel. Also present were the organisers of the two match leisure leagues, Mahmood Trunkwala and Shah Zaib Turnkawala.

The group of world’s top line footballers expressed their satisfaction over the security arrangements made at Karachi and Lahore for the safety and security of the visiting footballers. “We are very much delighted to be in Pakistan which is a sports loving country and is safe for holding sports events and foreign teams should visit it,” they added.

“Before coming to Pakistan we were of the view that cricket is the only popular sport here but the passion of football among the people is quite amazing and we are impressed to see the interest of people of Pakistan in football,” they maintained.

They were of the view that Pakistani youth was rich in football talent and what is needed its grooming and training under a long-term plan in modern academies under the supervision of qualified coaches.

“Pakistan has immense football talent which we have seen among the youth which is keen to play football and to take it up as a sport,” they asserted.

They expressed their gratitude for the hospitality being extended to them while in Pakistan and said they were enjoying their stay in this wonderful country. “Security is good and the arrangements are excellent and we are enjoying every bit of being in Pakistan,” they said.

They called upon the football organisers to establish football academies throughout the country to polish the skills of the aspiring footballers with the help of modern coaching and training.

They also urged the football organisers to invest recourses and money for the overall development of the game and said without adequate financial assistance it is not possible to promote and develop football on solid lines.

The organisers of the league, Mahmood Trunkwala and Shah Zaib Turnkwala said the visit of the foreign footballers have given a new identity to Pakistan and football.

“It is a way forward to establish football on new lines in the country and the visit of world’s best footballers has dispelled the impression that Pakistan is not a safe country for staging top of line sports events,” they said.

“Without the all-out support and cooperation of Pakistan Army it was not possible to hold these matches and we are also thankful to the people of Karachi and Lahore for making this event a big success,” they added.

They expressed their resolve to organise more international football events in future to promote the game.

Ryan Giggs said he was impressed to see the talent of young Pakistani footballers who have all the potential to become refined footballers provided they are trained on modern day football.

“With required hard work and training they can become top class footballers to make their mark at the international level”, he added. “People extended us love and showed their passion for football which has made us happy,” he said.-APP