It has been three years since the Pakistan Men’s Football team at Shaheens Sporting and Social Club graced the AFL field in the International Cup.
Their football knowledge was still very limited, but the men were ready for another challenge to further build on what they learnt in 2014.
Born and raised cricketers and soccer players, the men had been granted another opportunity they may have only dreamed of occurring once in their lifetimes.
However, this was their second chance to experience the shared loved of AFL and prove themselves in the International Cup.
Tireless work from community leaders Kashif Bouns, Ariz Syed, Hamza Dhedhy, Wassim Rafihi, Nomi Qureshi and the team’s captain Hasseb Qureshi, ensured the Pakistan men could continue their great initiatives from previous years.
They faced struggles with visas and large recruitment from overseas, but by August 2017, Bouns and his team had pulled it off yet again. The Shaheens were returning to the home of AFL.
It took some settling in, but thanks to many organisations such as the Northern Saints Football Club and the AFL (on behalf of Kashif Bouns), the Pakistan men were prepared for the tournament.
Throughout the tournament, they took on the likes of Germany, India and Japan, winning two matches out of the five played.
However, each man fought hard in every match, regardless of the result. They all showed guts and determination, consistently pushing themselves to extend their mental and physical knowledge their second time competing in Melbourne, while also creating some unforgettable memories.
According to Head Coach Matt Embling, the team thoroughly enjoyed the experience of ‘taking on the world’ in the International Cup, no matter the circumstances.
This being said, the Pakistan men did get a large shock when competing in the cold of Ballarat and Bendigo.
But, nevertheless, they took the opportunity at hand, filled with enormous amounts of gratitude, grit and genuine eagerness.
‘They’re beautiful people,’ stated coach Embling of his hardworking men, who explained that the men absolutely ‘love their footy like the rest of Melbourne’.
Overall, the Pakistan men, who were supported by heavy numbers of family and friends in the Melbourne Shaheens community, truly conquered the world of AFL for the second time.
The tireless efforts from the likes of Usman Malik, Abdulrab Mohammed, Hamid Mashawi, Nihail Mansoor and Captain Hasseb Qureshi on the field and community leaders in Kashif Bouns, Ariz Syed, Hamza Dhedhy, Wassim Rafihi, Nomi Qureshi and the coach Matt Embling off field, truly encapsulated the spirit of our Australian Rules game that is now an international success.