Once known as a violence-ridden neighbourhood, Lyari is now a hotbed of football fanatics which is why it is now hailed as ‘Mini Brazil.’ Guns have taken a backseat and violence is long-forgotten, the youth only cares about intense football matches on grounds that are not even properly built, but that doesn’t stand between their passion.
Lyari is said to be one of Karachi’s oldest inhabited areas, and its residents refer to it as “Mother of Karachi.” Its name is said to be derived from ‘Lyar,’ a tree that grows in a cemetery. Zainub Khatib, an Instagram blogger who is a history lover, wrote on her Instagram story, “Lyari loves and relates to Brazil so much because kids learn to play football in similar narrow-looking streets like Brazil, and some of them even claim that ‘Brazilians look like us’ which is also true to some extent.”
This year’s screenings are hosted at Maulvi Usman Park and happen to be super huge. Khaula Jamil, a Karachi-based photo-journalist, told Propergaanda that the screen is a gift from a representative of the Pakistan People’s Party, “In 2018, when I made a short documentary on FIFA fever there were multiple smaller projections outside a number of football clubs in various streets.”
Khaula says Lyarians are extremely warm and loving and they love to talk about their culture and passion for sports, “I’ve made friends there and they reached out to invite me to attend this year’s screenings too, it goes to show how inclusive they are.” Best matches to watch are when Argentina, Brazil or Germany are playing. It is guaranteed that you can’t find a bigger crowd of FIFA lovers in Pakistan than the one present at these screenings.
The journalist further said that in 2018 there were younger girls too who came to watch the match, “There were none to be found this time. People I spoke with said that women are welcome and they would definitely carve a space for them to sit comfortably if they plan to join us.”
Despite the unmatchable spirit, Lyari and football both go under-represented in Pakistan, “This is due to the neglect which is unfortunate and it’s not just football but boxing and all other sports.” Lyari is a gold mine for sporting talent and the day we start properly investing in grooming the youth, there is no doubt Pakistan will have world class players.