Councillor Muhammad Afzal shared his thoughts on the Commonwealth Games as Birmingham gears up to host the latest edition in 2022. The 11-day sporting spectacular will see more than 4,500 athletes representing their countries as they compete for glory across 19 different sports. Some 72 nations are expected to take part in the Games, which will feature more than 280 medal events.
Unlike this year’s 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, which were held behind closed doors, sports fans will be able to attend the Birmingham Games.
Mr Afzal said the Games would not only benefit the West Midlands and the rest of Britain but could also provide a boost to the Commonwealth.
The Queen, who is head of the Commonwealth, also celebrates her Platinum Jubilee next year.
The Mayor said the monarch’s seven decades of service to the family of nations are being matched by her grandson, Prince William
Speaking to Express.co.uk, he said William was a “very good” ambassador for the Commonwealth.
Prince William ‘very good’ Commonwealth ambassador like his mother Princess Diana
William: With his grandmother, the Queen
Mr Afzal, who was born in Pakistan, settled in Birmingham in 1969 and has become the longest-serving Muslim councillor in the UK.
He spoke fondly of William and his late mother Princess Diana’s visits to his country of birth.
He said: “Diana travelled to Pakistan a few times and Prince Charles has been to Pakistan.
“The Queen went but I think that was a long time ago, but people in Pakistan really love royalty.”
He recalled a visit to the country by William and his wife Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, in 2019.
William and Kate: Royal couple in Pakistan
He said: “Prince William went to Pakistan with his wife. People were very happy, they were lining up on the streets.
“Prince William also went to most of Pakistan. He went to the north of Pakistan, which is a very hilly area, with a lot of green scenery.
“The north of Pakistan is very beautiful, it has very high mountains and lakes, very green areas. Skiing also happens in those parts.
“When Prince William went there with his partner, they really liked that area and stayed there for a day or two.
“They really liked that part. They still remember because I know there was a function when the prince wore Pakistani clothes because he’d liked them so much.”
Royals: William and Kate at mosque in Pakistan
Mr Afzal also said he had enjoyed meeting the Queen on several occasions.
He said: “I have met her a few times; obviously you love her and she’s very nice, gentle, and very courteous.
“Due to COVID she has not been [to Birmingham] but normally she does visit Birmingham much more frequently.”
The main ticket ballot for the Birmingham Games is open and will close on September 30 at 8pm.
William: Visited Pakistan like his mother Diana
Tickets start from £8 for under-16s and £15 for adults, with more than one million tickets fixed at £22 or less.
Mr Afzal added that preparations for the Games are in full swing and that he is excited about the global event coming to Birmingham.
He said: “I am busy at the moment in terms of the preparation of the Commonwealth Games, trying to make them successful.
“Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the people of Birmingham and British citizens. We are going to take it and show to the world what we can do.”
Source: EXPRESS CO UK