Peshawar Zalmi's contribution to the development of cricket in Pakistan has been an eye-opener for many and shows what can be done by private organizations to help out the PCB.
By Farid Khan (6th October, 2017)
Peshawar Zalmi is not merely a franchise based in the provincial capital, but also an epitome of valour, zest and zeal among people of this nation. In the north-western part of the country, the word 'Zalmi' stands for youth - the part of our country where the state of exuberance among people is irrepressible, the concept of endothermy is long extinct and the blood running down is boiling hot.
Peshawar has had its fair share of distress in the past, but that has changed of late. Peshawar Zalmi has come to the fore and has spearheaded the cricketing fan base in the city; the same city which used to be in the news for all the wrong reasons, not that long ago. The franchise, with a logo indicating a fusion of their traditional turban and cricket stumps, has evolved gradually, yet drastically in a way that is likely to have a strong and far-reaching effect.
Peshawar Zalmi has been dedicated and focused on the development of cricket in the country, along with providing youth with ample opportunities to showcase their talent. Franchise owner Javed Afridi has, time and again, emphasized on activities off the pitch, complementing the hard work on it. The Peshawar Zalmi Foundation had already conducted a talent hunt program in the country even before the first ball of the Pakistan Super League was bowled. A franchise with an aim and an eye for the development of this gentleman's game, Peshawar Zalmi has been working its socks off in a bid to contribute towards youth empowerment. The Zalmi Foundation has tried every possible course of action in order to identify apt youngsters, making sure they receive the best training facilities available. The youngsters identified through the rigorous and merit-based talent hunt program have managed to represent Pakistan at the U19 level. The identified youngsters hailing from lesser-known and not-so-resourceful backgrounds have also been sent to the National Cricket Academy in Lahore to nurture their skills.
Knowing the fact that most youngsters in the province lack basic facilities to pursue international cricket, Peshawar Zalmi has come up with an initiative to provide 100 pitches and proper nets to the remote areas. Not less than 10,000 players are likely to benefit from these facilities. Zalmi has also made significant efforts in ensuring female players take up the sport professionally. According to the franchise, this is something that needs a lot of attention and addressing. The franchise identified skillful female players and sent them to the NCA in a healthy environment to train with the male players.
Peshawar Zalmi was also the first franchise to stage Zalmi World Cup in the UAE. The tournament served as a platform and helped the team in picking the best talent available. The Global Zalmi team includes players from various countries. The next year's edition of the Zalmi Global League will feature 16 teams from across 5 continents in the world and overseas Pakistanis will be given an opportunity to represent their respective teams.
Zalmi is one of only two franchises from the PSL to feature teams in the upcoming Global T20 League in South Africa. The outfit in that part of the world goes by the name of Benoini Zalmi. The local and international players will have adequate chances of sharing the dressing room with stalwarts of the game. Expanding the Zalmi network to South Africa will open new doors for players to rub shoulders with some of the best players in the world and also in enticing more South African players to visit Pakistan in the future.