Shaheens off to a Flying Start
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.
Lo and behold!
Perfect kicks, meticulous interceptions, scintillating mark, commendable team work, and, of course, crowd support were the highlights of the game as Shaheens took on their first actual opponents, Just Play – a local football team, and defeated them 44-26 under the overcast conditions at Princes Park Carlton.
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’.
Pakistan Shaheens Winning Team
“It is fantastic to see them performing like that,” he said during the post-game interview. “Honestly, I had not expected to see such professional approach from the players, but they surprised me.”
Before the game, the players had a brief warm-up session after which the game’s squad was announced. Nine players made it to the starting field while six were named as replacements. Coach Andrew named Khurram Mehdi the captain of the team. Faraz Kahn made history when he kicked the first ever goal for Pakistan Shaheens in any form of Australian Football.
The game was played as a part of the Cadbury AFL 9s social competition, AFL 9’s is a touch only version of AFL football. It is played outdoors on a rectangular field and requires the usual AFL skills, minus the tackling. You can kick goals, lay off a quick handball and take a diving mark. The Shaheens will play a total of 10 games as a part of the competition in preparation for their inaugural AFL International cup. Each week, they will start with a different playing squad and a new captain. The purpose of this exercise is to evaluate every player in a variety of roles and ascertain their role as the Shaheens make a push for the AFL International Cup.
Today’s victory has set high expectations for the rest of the games. Shaheens Founder Kashif Bouns, whose jubilant presence on the sidelines of the game was hard to ignore, is delighted on the team’s prospects.
“I am very proud of my team,” he said. “This victory shows we have talent and potential to make it big and we will make our nation proud.”
The Shaheens will play their next game on Monday, November 18. Below is the starting line-up of Shaheens for the first game:
F: Usama Khan Faraz Khan & Farrukh salahuddin
M: Bilal Khan, Mohammad Mohammad Ayaz & Zain Siddiqui
B Atta Khan, Jaffar Mehdi & Khurram Mehdi
IC Huzaifa Memon, Furqan Aslam, Omer Farooq, Hamid Shah, Noman Qureshi and Ovais Rehman
AFL 9’s Coach: Andrew Clarke, AFL 9’s Assistant Coach: Wassim Rafihi