Faizan Sameer, Manager & Head Coach for Team Eighteen, is also a futsal consultant for the team. With his love for football, he is well-versed in the ins and outs of Pakistani futsal and hopes to provide Pakistan with a professional league of Futsal/Football which will feature the local talent of the country internationally.
Sarah caught up with him for Sportageous to talk about the two sports in his country, how the game can grow, and what Team Eighteen is all about.
Please introduce yourself.
I am the manager & head coach for Team Eighteen. I am also working as a Consultant for Eighteen on developing Pakistani Futsal.
Apart from that, I am a Digital content creator and an actor!
Our players are on the company payroll and apart from that, they get 100% educational scholarships upon scoring 50% marks in their respective degrees. Team Eighteen is one of its kind and this kind of structure has never been set up before in Pakistan.
How did you get involved in Pakistani futsal and in coaching?
I’ve been playing both football and futsal since I can remember. It was my childhood dream to be a professional football player and represent Pakistan, but due to some family and financial issues, I had to opt for multiple jobs in a very early age to support my family and my education.
A year ago I got this massive opportunity to work as a Team Manager with Eighteen and since then it has become my home!
Tell us a bit about the Pakistani futsal team you are involved with and your role here.
Team Eighteen is a futsal team which was created by Tarek Hamdy - CEO of Eighteen under the CSR initiative. The purpose of the program is to provide amateur players with a platform where they can grow in all important aspects of life.
Apart from their sports skills we work on their interpersonal skills, communication skills and much more. Our players are on the company payroll and apart from that, they get 100% educational scholarships upon scoring 50% marks in their respective degrees. Team Eighteen is one of its kind and this kind of structure has never been set up before in Pakistan.
The credit goes to Tarek Hamdy, CEO Eighteen who has done an amazing job by putting up the dream team and set an example for other organizations and companies to invest in the youth of the country. We definitely need more people like him.
My role is to manage the football team on and off the pitch. Apart from the game I also work closely with the management to design the strategies to develop Pakistan’s Futsal and provide a platform which has never been given before.
What is your ultimate goal?
My ultimate goal is to provide Pakistan with professional football and futsal leagues which will feature the local talent of our country on a national stage. The only way to go up is to create a platform for those who don’t have the right connections and influential people around them. We need to create an environment of equal employment opportunity in the sports sector as well.
How do you compare Pakistani futsal to international futsal in terms of the audience and local reception of the sport here?
Honestly speaking there is a lot to do when trying to compete or compare with the international futsal but if you’re a futsal player or have any affiliation with Pakistani futsal you can tell that it has emerged as one of the most followed game in the past couple of years. People are coming out to watch the game and support their favourite teams.
The credit goes to Eighteen who has made an instant impact in making the whole futsal scenario professional in Pakistan and set an example for other companies to follow the same formula.
What are the major differences in terms of technique/skill in Pakistani futsal and football?
Well, futsal, compared to football, is more skilled, compact and a fast-paced game. It requires quick decision making and gives you no room for mistakes. I personally feel that Futsal is the step one towards a healthy and more organized Football.
The problem with Pakistani football is the style of football being followed here and that is playing long balls and majorly relying on the defensive strategies.
If we work on our Futsal, we will automatically improve our football since it has more to do with the possession-based game, skilled players and compact formation, which by the way is being followed all over the world now.
The only way to go up is to create a platform for those who don’t have the right connections and influential people around them. We need to create an environment of equal employment opportunity in the sports sector as well.
Where do you see Pakistani futsal in the next 10-15 years?
Given the right platforms and strategies, I am sure we can achieve the heights in futsal at the global stage, which unfortunately Pakistani football has failed to achieve in all these years.
People are now coming out to watch the matches at the local level, which means the paradigm is shifting from cricket to futsal.
You do multiple other things along with your coaching, you create social media content, you’re helping with managing your wife’s blog who is also a content creator. How do you manage to balance all your different ventures?
I don’t consider futsal to be job or work, it’s my ultimate passion and the first love of my life. So taking out time for it has never been a problem. It’s more like a therapy for me.
I also love creating content and film making, so all of this is what I always wanted to do. I have worked really hard to incorporate my passion into my work and eliminated the 9-5 corporate slavery before I even turned 30. All thanks to Allah Almighty.
Is there a message you wish to send out to the Pakistani futsal fan base?
Keep on working hard and together we shall achieve what we deserve.