Watch the Shaheens train just once and I’m certain you’ll walk away with a new appreciation for Australian football.
A team comprised solely of players from Melbourne’s Pakistani community, the majority who until four months ago knew almost nothing of our native game, might sound a little strange to some.
But standing watching the 30-odd players train on Monday night, ahead of their final AFL 9s hit out of the summer season, it’s impossible not to smile.
Men and boys of all different shapes and sizes, with varying degrees of skill level – some still very raw, charge around Princess Park with unbridled energy and enthusiasm.
Pak Shaheen’s managing director Kashif Bonus invited community leaders from Melbourne to visit first ever footy team of Pakistani players in AFL in the ground. Pakistani community leaders visited Pak Shaheen team in the ground practicing their footy aiming to participate in AFL Unity Cup 2014 and then in the AFL World Cup. Community leaders pledged to promote & support Pak Shaheens.
Melbourne (Press News); Pakistan Shaheens is the first-ever footy team that will represent Pakistan in the Australian Football League International Cup 2014. While, our ultimate goal the international cup is still a while away, the Unity cup is just around the corner. The Unity Cup is an initiative of the Australian Federal Police (AFP), AFL Multicultural Program and the Essendon football club and was first played in 2008. Over the years Unity cup has also invited teams from interstate, however Victoria remains the home of the Unity Cup. After 7 years the Unity Cup continues to foster a mutual understanding and respect, highlighting positive ways Police and CALD communities work together. In 2014, Pakistan Shaheens will create history by being first Pakistani team to play in the competition.
Like each year Australia Day was celebrated through out Australia on 26 Jan 2014. In Melbourne People from all walk of life from cultural groups to community groups participated in prime event of the day Australia Day Parade. Representing Pakistanis, Pakistan Australia Association of Melbourne – PAAM, Pakistanis Students Association of Australia – PSAA & Pakistani National Team of AFL Pak Shaheens also joined the Parade. Team coach Andrew & all the players enjoyed joining Australia day Parade.
The Pakistan Shaheens rapid rise in the Australian football world took another step yesterday at Arden Street (North Melbourne’s training base), with the team playing its first full field practice match, up against Team Africa. While the end result fell to the Africans, the Shaheens put on a showing that proved there is plenty to come.
After a minute’s silence to recognise the life of former South African president Nelson Mandala, the Shaheens started well dominating the opening few minutes and peppering the goals for a number of behinds, which wasn’t that surprising given they had only stood on a footy field once before as a team. Team Africa then got a bit of a run-on with some unanswered goals but pressure from the Shaheens defence saw them spraying their attack and missing more goals than they kicked.
The Pakistan Shaheens were given a tour of Collingwood’s high performance training facilities and then put through their paces in a training session in preparation for their debut in the 2014 AFL International Cup.
The 25 Shaheens players made use of Olympic Park Oval, the sprung floor and rehabilitation facilities on the night to launch their 2014 campaign.
AFL Victoria multicultural programs coordinator Kashif Bouns founded the Shaheens after attending the International Cup in 2011.
Pakistan had never participated in the International Cup, so Bouns spent the past two years recruiting a team of Pakistanis that is currently preparing to take on the other countries in next year’s Cup.
The following article is courtesy of Zain Nabi. It follows the first match by the squad being assembled in Melbourne to represent Pakistan at the 2014 International Cup. This truly is a case of the first tentative steps towards international competition for a new footy nation.
It was the first real test of the relentless training sessions that the players had been through during the past couple of months. The Shaheens carried their skills from the training on to the playing field to display what Coach Andrew termed ‘an outstanding performance’.