Al Shams Snow Leopards “won it” in the most demanding season 1
In its commitment to break the barriers the youth is facing, Pakistan Youth Outreach (PYO) reached out the extra mile on 14th August, the day when Pakistan came in to existence on the world’s map, by taking the revolutionary step of introducing high altitude sports in the country. Pakistan Youth Outreach successfully organized a high altitude football tournament and inaugural cricket match in collaboration with Shah-e-Shams sports club in Shimshal, a village nestling in the Karakorum mountains in the far flung northern region of Pakistan.
During the games, the world’s highest grounds were decorated with Pakistani flags, from the high surrounding mountains to the entire playing field. The event was held in the memory of Mr. Muhammad Khayal Baig (late). The semi-final matches were held at Mr. and Mrs. M.Khayal Baig’s sports arena “Zarthgurben” in Shimshal, Hunza,” which is situated at an altitude of 4100m (13451.44 ft). It is the first high altitude football and cricket ground in Pakistan. Seven teams participated in the tournaments from Shimshal. Al-Shams Snow Leopards, Khizerabad Badshah, Center A team and Khizerabad B team made it to the semi finals.
League matches were played in the Shimshal ground at 3100m and only semi-finals and final matches were played at Mr. and Mrs. M.Khayal Baig world’s highest sports arena Zarthgurben.
It is pertinent to note here that Zarthgurben is the perfect campsite to serve outdoor sports requirements. It can perfectly cater to the needs and requirements for young men and women looking out for the best campsite in Pakistan. President PYO Mirza Ali had promised that this year will be bigger and better than previous years. The venue of the games is located at 2.5 hours trek from Shimshal village, a total gain of 1000m from the village. More than 250 people from the village of Shimshal witnessed the high altitude football tournament. The boys and girls from schools cheered for the players, huffing and puffing struggling to beat each other.
Al shams Snow leopards, which is a very young team, won over Centre Shimshal team A by 2-1. A record number of entries were received, with about 98 local young players participating in the tournament. Given a number of other tournaments also taking place locally over the same weekend, it shows that there is still a huge desire and commitment from youth to facilitate, and participate in high altitude games. A friendly women football match of 30 minutes was also played within the same local area.
Along the football tournament an inaugural cricket hardball match was also played between Itreb Shimshal and Council for Shimshal teams. Itreb team beat Shimshal council team by 12 runs and Naveed Akhtar secured first 50 at the worlds highest cricket ground. The elders, leaders of the village appreciated the initiatives and applauded the players. The leaders, social workers and village elders witnessed the final match.
“This is unique and very interesting to play at world’s highest football ground, breathing inn and out hard fighting with altitude is indeed a job that you fight hard,” asaid the wining team’s Captain Kaleem Ullah. “But we trained hard and won, this is indeed historical for me, my team and for the village to play at this ground on 14th August, the cheering crowd and the flags of Pakistan across the valley pumped us with great zeal.”
“I believe this venue is creating opportunities and new direction for any athlete training at this height will certainly benefit to high altitude sports which will be advantage for any athletes competing at different international sports event.”
The experience of high altitude football tournament at the beautiful campsite goes far beyond enjoying the healthy activities connected with outdoors, such as trekking and living in a resort fenced by massive rocky towers. The sports arena which has been named after famed duo mountaineer siblings parents, aim to develop the area for up to 22 different sports, from high altitude climbing sports, skiing, rock climbing, mountain biking, marathon, athletics, to volley ball, football, cricket and swimming. The venue is the only global high altitude sports arena.
Earlier Zarthgurben has been Ski training resort for the past two years. The venue is constantly leading towards more development in the near future. Chairlifts and other sporting tracks will be developed in the area to offer variety of sports all year round.
Moreover, Zartgurben can be employed with the goal that campers ride to all the activities at the level grounds, youngsters can explore local nature sites such as for ice climbing, rock climbing, hiking , skiing, and ice skating. Pakistan Youth Outreach is taking it to the next level and engaging young men and women in a wide variety of outdoor sports.
Mirza Ali and Samina Baig, the founders of Pakistan Youth Outreach, have envisioned and are now promoting the concept of character-building abilities, developing greater self-confidence, and team building and leadership skills of the youth through outdoor sports. The high altitude sport is a new inception in the modern sports. The initiative will help develop talent for different international sports events, including the Olympics and Winter Olympics, in the future.
PC: Sohail Ahmed Baig