2 minutes with... Rizwan Malik

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 31 October, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 31 October, 2004, 12:00am

Rizwan Malik

The former butcher - and Valley rugby player - has set his sights on transforming Pakistan into a rugby nation. Choice cuts are still aplenty, but rugby choices are few with the founder member of the Pakistan Rugby Union saying the country will have to depend on the IRB if the game is to take a foothold. He is 35.

What role can the IRB play in Pakistan? The International Rugby Board holds the key to the future of rugby in Pakistan. We need funds to set up an administrative structure and a programme for coaches and referees.

How many rugby players are there in Pakistan? Around 120. We only have four clubs in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi.

Is there a League? My club is in Lahore. We play home and away games with Islamabad once a month. It takes five hours travelling by train. Against Karachi, it is once a season for the train journey is 24 hours. We can't afford to fly.

What needs to be done? The most urgent need is help to get the game into the schools. We need coaches and trainers. We need people who can devote all their time to rugby. At the moment the union is run by volunteers who can't give much more time to rugby.

When was the Pakistan Rugby Union formed? It was formed in 2000 soon after I went back home from Hong Kong. Rugby had been played in Pakistan since the early 90s but there was no real structure. Together with some other friends, I set up the Union.

Then it was just by chance that rugby became organised in Pakistan? Yes. My family used to have four butcher shops in Hong Kong. But we went through a bad patch and sold it. My father was also in the garment business and I relocated there and we now deal in yarn, fabric and other accessories.

So you are a multi-millionaire now? I don't know about the multi.

What is your goal? Cricket, hockey and most recently soccer, are the main sports in Pakistan. I want to offer youngsters another choice. Rugby suits the character of our nation. We have six-foot Pathans from the North who will make good players. If we get the right resources, Pakistan can become a force in Asia.