KARACHI: Almost every second child in Pakistan grows up playing cricket at some stage, a large number of them dream to become a cricketer and represent the country, and most of them remain unable to achieve their dream, because they don’t have any platform to showcase their skills.
For all such players, the PSL team Lahore Qalandars introduced a Rising Stars program, a platform where everyone can come and show what skills they’ve got.
This year, during the 2nd edition of Rising Stars trials, around 160,000 aspiring Qalandars appeared with a dream to play cricket at top level.
One of them was Mohammad Naved, an auto-rickshaw driver from Sargodha. Naved will now travel to Australia with Lahore Qalandars’ Rising Stars squad later this month.
“It is like a dream come true for me,” Naved told Geo.tv.
Naved represented Sargodha in the Rising Stars tournament and scored a match wining 67 in the final to get everyone’s attention.
The opening batsman wasn’t picked for Sargodha’s original squad, but he kept trying.
“I first appeared in Sargodha trials, but I wasn’t picked. Then I went to Layyah and Bahawalpur but was again turned down there,” he said.
“Finally, I was picked in Faisalabad trials,” he said.
But, he was sent back to represent his original city team when Sargodha lost some of the players after age verification process.
For Naved, the Jazz Rising Stars program is a life changing moment. From driving rickshaw in Sargodha to play in top stadiums of Sydney is something which he always dreamt of.
“I am thankful to Rana Fawad, Rana Atif and Aqib Javed for providing me this opportunity,” he said.
Naved revealed that two of his brothers are auto-mechanics while one repairs bicycles.
“My routine was to play cricket for few hours and then drive rickshaw to earn bread and butter for myself,” he said.
“I didn’t let my circumstances demoralise me, I kept on practicing along with earning bread and butter for my family,” added the opening batsman.
Lahore Qalandars’ CEO Rana Atif says that emergence of players like Naved who were nowhere before is an evidence that Lahore Qalandars is providing equal opportunity to everyone.
“We provide equal opportunity to everyone. The only thing we see in a player is his potential, rest all is irrelevant,” Atif told Geo.tv.
Aqib Javed, Pakistan’s former pacer and now Lahore Qalandars’ director of cricket operations, has termed Rising Stars program as an alternate options for all the players who are in oblivion for one reason or other.
“See, regional teams are picked from selected players of club and department teams are also like that. So, not everyone gets the chance to appear at top forum,” Aqib said.
“We provided a platform to players who are ignored by clubs, regions or departments to come and show what they have got,” the former bowler added.
The platform provided by Lahore Qalandars proved to be a launch-pad for Muhammad Naved which took him from streets of Sargodha to grounds of Sydney.