Sports are more of a cultural practise in Pakistan than a competitive one. Cricket is by far the most common sport in the world, but other sports such as hockey, squash, soccer, table tennis, and polo have also had a long history in the country. Football, on the other hand, has never achieved the same degree of popularity in Pakistan as it has elsewhere in the world. This is surprising given the level of interest and the number of followers in Karachi, especially in the city’s poorer areas.
The Karachi United Football Foundation Trust aims to fill this gap by providing opportunities for young people who want to pursue a career in football. What makes them even more unique is that they do the majority of their work in areas of the city where other other sports and recreation organisations will not even move. Which makes the fact that they were the only winner in the Sports category at the inaugural KE KHI Awards all the more apt. On April 3, 2021, K-Electric, Karachi’s sole electricity provider, held an awards ceremony to honour 34 winners in 13 categories. They all embodied Karachi’s tireless and forward-thinking organisations that keep the city going.
“The participants and winners of these awards are an important part of the state, as they support the government in its efforts to benefit the citizens of the city in a range of different fields, including education, public health, and sustainability,” said Sindh Governor Imran Ismail in a video message praising the winners and thanking KE for recognising their efforts. I applaud KE’s initiative to acknowledge these NGOs’ contributions, and I am confident that it will serve as a springboard for larger plans. The procedure was carried out with the utmost integrity and impartiality, and each entity was judged solely on its performance.”
Karachi United Football Foundation was one of the 140 entries submitted. The foundation supports grassroots football and aspires to achieve football excellence in the country through community growth. The foundation is well-known for its national and international football teams, which include men’s, women’s, and youth football teams. The foundation also offers free football coaching to the underprivileged and plans to host sponsored championships to support talented and deserving athletes.
“Our main goal is to build a group of football lovers who hail from the cities or slums and improve the standard of football in Pakistan,” Ali Ata, Director Development of Karachi United, said. The KE KHI Awards’ acknowledgment is extremely significant in inspiring us to keep moving forward. Football is a low-cost sport that emphasises teamwork and cooperation. This kind of partnership can only spread love and harmony in Karachi, which is a melting pot city.”
The Karachi United Centers of Excellence (CoEs) seek out and nurture talented young footballers while providing them with education, jobs, health knowledge, and, most importantly, hope. Karachi United’s founders claim that through centres of excellence, social limits can be learned through football. Karachi United Football Foundation, like the other 33 winners, received a monetary benefit in the form of an electricity bill rebate ranging from PKR 250,000 to 5 million.
Moonis Alvi, CEO of K-Electric, also spoke at the event, emphasising the significance of the awards. “KE is ecstatic to present the KHI Awards for the first time. We’ve had a 107-year association with Karachi, and we’re deeply ingrained in the city’s fabric,” he said. “It’s encouraging to see so many capable and enthusiastic groups working to improve the community. These awards are KE’s humble attempt to recognise their commitment, and we are proud to offer our continued support. KE also thanks the jury members who donated their time and expertise, as well as our audit partners who ensured the evaluation process’ integrity and transparency.”
All submissions were reviewed by an independent jury led by Saad Amanullah Khan, the founder of #IAMKARACHI. “We had an enormous number of entries to choose from for our first edition,” Saad Amanullah Khan said of the whole process and the selection of winners. The winners have had a significant effect on the region, and their total asset base exceeds PKR 54 billion, which represents the welfare investment these organisations are making to help Pakistan and its largest metropolitan city progress. It is commendable of KE to honour these organisations and empower them on their journey.”
The majority of those who were shortlisted excelled in the effect of their projects, the consistency of their implementation, and their ability to adhere to budgets and timelines. The implementation of best practises in urban innovation, as well as the use of technology and mobile solutions, received a lot of attention during this process.