ISLAMABAD-Visiting England rugby coach and former England team member termed Pakistan completely safe for all kinds of sporting events and advised people to visit at least once this part of the world to know the exact ground reality, instead of paying heed to speculations and negativity being spread about this beautiful country.

Ian Simpson is principal of Oasis Academy Lister Park, Bradford and having 47 academies where under-privileged girls are imparted rugby knowledge. Craig Taylor is former rugby player and renowned coach while Ikram Butt is first ever Pakistani-born British, who represented England national side against Wales. In an interview with The Nation, they said: “We are thankful to Islamabad Rugby Association (IRU) for inviting us to Pakistan and brining us to various schools and laces, where we find natural talent. We have scarified our holidays just to travel to Pakistan, but let us all accept that we have done the right thing otherwise, we could have regretted that for the rest of our life.”

Sharing his views, Ian Simpson said: “We reside in an area where Muslims make 96 percent of the total population. We not only emphasise on education but also give too much focus on female rugby. Although rugby is second largest sports in UK, yet still females need to be involved more. We want to expand our community network to other parts of the world especially in this region. It is our first visit and we have already planned to come in April again and spend little time in Islamabad and especially in AJK, as we want to find fresh talent, provide them with rugby training and also start exchange programme, through which talented girls will be taken to UK for further training.”

“We will bring 15 female players of age group 16 to 19 to Pakistan in October next year and play friendly rugby matches in Islamabad and other cities as well. Hopefully, we will be able to spread message of peace, love and harmony among different communities and our objective is to involve females in sports as much as we can,” he added.

Sharing his views, Craig said: “I am pleasantly surprised to witness such a wonderful country. I am training females as slain British MP Joe Cox was very near to me and she was strong advocate of female’s involvement in sports. It was her belief and motive to engage girls in rugby, but unfortunately, she was brutally murdered, otherwise, she had promised me to travel to Pakistan. Terrorism happens everywhere in the world, as Joe was brutally murdered in her own constituency in England. We can’t blame some certain religions for the hatred as he was a White British man, who murdered Joe. Our objective is to carry forward her mission in the best possible manner.”

He coached Pakistani girls during an exhibition match for around 45 minutes and promised to come again in April to train Pakistani girls for 15 days, helping them in getting training under his watchful eyes in England. “A number of my students will get chance to play for England national women team next year. I want to groom maximum females, who are very keen to play this game.”

Ikram Butt said: “I had represented England team when I was junior against Wales and played 6 times for English side. I had a professional rugby career spanning over 13 years. I had always dreamet about representing Pakistan at international level, as my father was from Pakistani origin and when that opportunity came in 2004, even I had retired from international matches, but I didn’t even think about a moment and played for Pakistan.” “I am planning to write my second autobiography next year, in which I will mention rugby events conducted in Pakistan including our visit to Pakistan with 15-member female team, while we will definitely come again. I am really grateful to all, who extended warm welcome and looking forward to come again very soon,” Ikram concluded.