FORMER REPUBLIC of Ireland manager and former footballer Micheal Owen have joined forces as part of St Patrick's Athletic three-year deal with Global Soccer Ventures (GSV) to create a feeder system for Pakistani players into Europe.
The pair are also joined by Saints academy director Ger O’Brien and UEFA-licensed coaches Jamie Moore and Johnny McDonnell. The aim will be to help nurture the next generation of footballers in Pakistan.
Michael Owen will take up a role as an ambassador for the project.
Pakistan is a sports loving nation with a vibrant sports culture. Given the right opportunities, including an iconic soccer city, I’m sure Pakistan will be able to compete in a professional environment and I’m looking forward to helping them achieve their goals @OfficialDGISPR
— Michael Owen (@themichaelowen) January 6, 2022
Karel Fraeye (Belgium) and Sandro Gianisella (Italy) will make up the coaching team that visits nine cities in Pakistan in search of talent.
Trials across Pakistan from January 17 to February 2 will be overseen by Fraeye and Gianisella. O’Brien, Moore, Owen, Kerr, and McDonnell will join up at a later date.
The city's chosen are Faisalabad, Quetta, Sukkur, Karachi, Lahore ,Multan, Muzaffarabad, Peshawar, Gujranwala, and Islamabad. A squad of 20 aged between 18 and 21 will be chosen.
The selected few will then head to Dublin to train with the younger Pat's sides and will also maintain a chance of playing with senior Premier Division sides and FAI Cup holders.
Imran Khan, Pakistan’s Prime Minister has welcomed the news. Khan, is a former international cricketer and wants to see Asian players develop in his country
Kerr, O’Brien, McDonnell and Moore will impart knowledge to domestic coaches in early sessions. The elite group will then travel to Dublin to taste European football.
"𝙎𝙩 𝙋𝙖𝙩'𝙨 𝙞𝙨 𝙖 𝙫𝙚𝙧𝙮 𝙞𝙣𝙘𝙡𝙪𝙨𝙞𝙫𝙚 𝙚𝙣𝙫𝙞𝙧𝙤𝙣𝙢𝙚𝙣𝙩 𝙬𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙚 𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙧𝙮𝙤𝙣𝙚 𝙞𝙨 𝙢𝙤𝙧𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙣 𝙬𝙚𝙡𝙘𝙤𝙢𝙚"
Brian Kerr has been telling us more about 'Next Gen Football Stars' after today’s launch #FootballHoga #GSVNextGenTrials @GSVOfficial1 pic.twitter.com/PPniCyM78O
— St Patrick's Athletic FC (@stpatsfc) January 6, 2022
A club statement says:
“The master plan provides a soft landing for Pakistani players into Europe where they will be nurtured, developed and climatised to meet European playing conditions.”
Former England international and Liverpool striker Owen says:
“It is a great privilege to be working with Pakistani talent and offering a professional talent ID programme in Pakistan for the very first time
“This will be the first ever national talent hunt programme meeting UEFA player evaluation standards which offers a gateway into Europe. I look forward to seeing you in Ireland.”
“We at St Pat’s put a huge emphasis on ensuring that there is a proper pathway for players to develop and we take pride in giving young players the chance to develop.
“Providing the same opportunity for some of the brightest talent in Pakistan is something we are proud to participate in.”
Global Soccer Ventures (GSV) and Ireland club St Patrick's Athletic Football Club to train Pakistani Footballers under a three-year deal#GSV #StPatrick #UEFA #KamyabJawanProgramhttps://t.co/Qqnlfm5zHe
— Khel Shel (@khelshel) January 7, 2022
“When I first heard about this project through St Pat’s I was excited and eager to be involved. I have no doubt that there is a lot of untapped talent in Pakistan.
"We are hoping to find, nurture and develop that talent with a view to benefitting the players and ultimately the footballing nation of Pakistan.”
GSV CEO Zabe Khan adds:
“As a former player in Pakistan all I wanted was a professional opportunity to play regular football and find a way to further my professional career in football.
“This is now a realistic ambition for Pakistan’s football where emerging talent will be developed in international facilities and play in a different terrain.”