Historic Kick Off For Pakistan Rugby League
Pakistan Rugby League will play their first ever game against a British Amateur Rugby League select team in Dubai at the World Famous Sport City stadium, 29th November, 5pm kick Off.
Rugby League has established a firm foundation in Pakistan after almost of decade of hard work in collaboration with a number of partners including the British Asian Rugby Association (BARA), Leeds Rugby Foundation (LRF), British Amateur Rugby League Association (BARLA), Rugby Football League (RFL) and Leeds Metropolitan University.
Founded in 1992, The Islamabad Rugby club, which host the only purpose built rugby pitch in Pakistan, have been organising rugby league coaching sessions and competitions for local schools, men & women for the past six years in partnership with Ikram Butt, head of BARA.
Kashif Khwaja, one of the founding members of the Islamabad rugby club, took up the invitation by Ikram, to continue his studies in the UK and while doing so, further develop his knowledge & skills of rugby league.
Kashif grasped the opportunity and not only gained his Masters in Business Studies at Leeds Metropolitan University but also gained valuable rugby league experience. Kashif was also awarded a level 1 rugby league certificate and made his debut for BARA at rugby league.
Kashif, who will captain the pioneering Pakistan Rugby League team, commented, ‘We here in Pakistan, are very grateful to Ikram for laying the foundations of rugby league development in Pakistan.’
‘We are also indebted to a number of key individuals including Kevin Rudd, former European Rugby League Federation Executive, who came out to Pakistan and helped us immensely. Spen Alison, Chairman, of the British Amateur Rugby League Association, also visited Pakistan and on our behalf met with senior government officials.
And a special mention to Emma Rosewarne, Operation Director at the Rugby Football League, who I had the pleasure of meeting during my visit to the UK, has and continues to provide valuable guidance and inspiration to us throughout the years.’
Ikram, stated, we are delighted that through Spen Alison, BARLA has accepted our invitation to take part in this historic occasion.’
‘Spen shares our vision of developing our great game throughout South Asia and has gone out of his way to make this event happen. At this moment of time the political situation in Pakistan doesn’t allow us to host the game over there, however, playing such a game in Dubai at the World Famous, Sport City stadium, is a wonderful opportunity to expand and promote the game of rugby league to a wider audience.’
‘We are already in discussions with BARLA and our newly formed partnership in India about hosting a Tri Nations event in Islamabad, Pakistan, next year. Having already witnessed rugby league tournaments and festivals at the Islamabad club, I have no doubts that they will be able to provide a wonderful and unique experience for any rugby playing nation visiting the country.’
Spen Alison, added, ‘I am absolutely delighted about the expansion of the game. BARLA is committed to expanding the game where ever and when ever this is possible. This event is a culmination of my visit four years ago and im very pleased to play my part.’
Hasan Pooya, Chairman of the Pakistan Rugby League, commented ‘The event in Dubai is the culmination of a lot of hard work behind the scenes by various partners over the years. Our aim is to establish rugby league in Pakistan for the long term and we are delighted that BARLA have provided us a platform to do so.’
Ikram, the founder of BARA, manages Connecting Communities, Leeds Rugby Foundation’s biggest project to date, and was recently awarded a Doctorate in Sport Science by Leeds Metropolitan University for his pioneering sport development initiatives within the UK and abroad.