Preparations for the FIFA World Cup are in full swing in Lyari and Malir, the Baloch majority areas of Karachi. Walls and streets are being painted with pictures of their favorite teams and players, as the world’s mega event is going to start this month on November 20 in Qatar.
Lyari is known as “Mini Brazil” due to its residents’ passion for football, as well as Malir is known as the “heart of football lovers.” Residents of these towns are set to enjoy the mega-event of the FIFA World Cup by decorating their homes, streets, and walls, and waving their favorite teams’ flags on the top of their houses. Footballer Neymar and the Brazilian team’s flag seem to be the most popular in the area. Local youth gather every night to paint the flags of the participating teams and the faces of the star footballers on their street walls — people of all ages participate to show their love for football.
Lyari and Malir could be seen splashing with colors during the World Cup. The walls of the city are decorated with the flags of the 32 participating teams. A World Cup Wall has also been built, on which the names of past winning teams have been written, while the space for the World Cup 2022 trophy is left empty.
A rap song in Balochi Language has been prepared by Makhtum Baloch, a resident of Malir’s Siddique Goth.
Football has never earned popularity in cricket-crazy Pakistan. Its national team has never won any major accolades in football, and the country’s infrastructure is not fit for international-level training. That doesn’t kill the hopes of young Lyari talent that gained praise from football stars such as Ronaldinho, Nicolas Anelka, Ryan Giggs, Robert Pires, David James, George Boateng, and Luis Boa Morte, who visited Karachi in 2017.
Former Liverpool striker Michael Owen, who came to Lyari this year said it was a “hotbed of talent for football.”