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A secure govt job in hand but RKFC’s Shahnawaz won’t give up football for anything

Press Trust of India

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New Delhi :Quite often in India, sports is seen as a ladder to secure government jobs. But for Kashmiri footballer Shahnawaz Bashir, a secure government job happened much before his sporting career took off with a team which is aiming to make a mark in its I-League debut.

The mid-field pivot is among the starry-eyed footballers, who make up Real Kashmir FC, the first team from Jammu and Kashmir to secure a place in the I-League — the national football league.

The 30-year-old Bashir, who hails from Srinagar, has a secure government job but is unwilling to give up his sporting dreams even if it means a hectic life devoid some simple pleasures of life.

 

In a way, Bashir can be considered an odd man out in the Real Kashmir team as most of its players have part-time jobs, some are even daily-wage earners and a few still studying.

The side coached by Scotsman and former Rangers player David Robertson and has already scripted history by winning the second division league earlier this year.

“I am working as a senior accountant in the Accountant General’s office in Srinagar. It is a 9 to 5 job but I get some relaxations, I can join office one hour late. The AG (Accountant General) allows me do that as he knows the craze for football in Kashmir and the positive impact it is making,” Bashir told PTI in an interview.

“So, I train (at TRC Ground in Srinagar) with the team from 8am to around 10 am and rush to office at 11am. In the evening, I leave office a bit late, say 5:30 or 6pm. It is a hectic life but I am used to it and I am happy doing this,” said Bashir, whose father is a businessman.

The mid-fielder has no current financial problems to talk about but he has seen his share of hardships while growing up.

“My father is a small-time businessman and my mother a housewife. I did not have a football to kick or boots of my own and I had to borrow from others. Since my father also played football in his younger days, he has no issues with me playing the game.

“But my mother was initially opposed to it as she felt this would not take me anywhere. I joined a football academy (run by J & K Bank) and from there, I joined Lonestar Kashmir (which currently plays in second division I-League) and played there for three years (from 2014 to 2016). Last year, I joined Real Kashmir,” he said.

He also completed his Bachelors degree and got a permanent central government job.

Bashir admitted he may have difficulties in joining other clubs outside Srinagar because of his job. Despite this, he dreams of playing for the national team.

“Every footballer wants to be in the national team and I also dream of the same. I don’t think there will be any problem if I am selected in the national team. I can apply for leave from my office to be in national camps and for playing matches,” he said.

“Mehrajuddin Wadoo and Ishfaq Ahmed played for India and any of these players in Real Kashmir can play in the Indian team in future also, who knows. I am seeing a football revolution in Kashmir,” he said.

Bashir said except for a few instances in the past, the volatile situation in the valley does come in the way of the game.

“People from outside Kashmir may think differently but it is normal there as far as playing football is concerned. The problem is not much about the situation there but it is more about lack of infrastructure.”

Real Kashmir play their first match of the I-League against defending champions Minerva Punjab on October 31 in Panchkula. Their first home match is against Churchill Brothers of Goa on November 6.


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Australia refuse to tour Pakistan for proposed ODI matches, cite safety concerns

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Melbourne: Australia has turned down Pakistan Cricket Board’s request to play two One Day International (ODI) matches in the country, citing security concerns. The PCB had asked Cricket Australia to play two of the five ODIs, which are slated to be played in UAE, in Pakistan, but security concerns made Cricket Australia decide against the same.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, though the proposal has been rejected by the Australian cricket board, it has assured the PCB that they would be open to the idea in the future.

“We want to see international cricket return to Pakistan – the country has a huge passion for it,” said a CA spokesperson.

 

“However, the safety of our players and support staff is our number one priority and we won’t compromise that. We’ll continue to take advice from a range of government agencies and our own security intelligence and act on this accordingly.”

“At this stage, from an Australia team perspective, we are not contemplating moving our current bilateral-tour arrangements from taking on Pakistan in the UAE, when they host the next series but we do remain open to the idea of playing in the country again. We formally advised the PCB of this position in early January,” he added.

The PCB has in return, declined reports of Australia refusing to tour Pakistan, terming negotiations with Cricket Australia (CA) as currently ‘open and ongoing’.

Australia have not played an away series against Pakistan since 1998 which PCB chairman Ehsan Mani had attempted to address during the former’s recent Test series against the Asian side.

Mani attempted to convince CA chief executive Kevin Roberts to schedule an away series against Pakistan, urging them to follow the lead of Sri Lanka, West Indies and Zimbabwe who had toured the nation since 2017.

Sri Lanka’s return was hailed as a major boost considering the deadly attack on their players in Lahore in 2009.

Australian ODI captain Aaron Finch and Pakistan-born Usman Khawaja have recently expressed a desire to tour Pakistan, in case the security concerns were addressed.

“Obviously, whatever Cricket Australia tells us, that’ll be the big thing. We’ll leave it to the administrators. They’re pretty good at taking care of us and making sure everything’s safe,” said Khawaja.

“I was born in Pakistan so it won’t be too different for me, but it’s still a while away,” he added.

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Federer ponders over his ‘miraculous’ career after Murray’s early retirement prospect

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London: As the tennis world continued to digest the prospect of Andy Murray`s retirement, an evergreen Roger Federer pondered the “luck” of his longevity on Sunday ahead of his bid for a hat-trick of Australian Open titles.

Murray`s announcement that Melbourne Park could be his last tournament as a professional has made 37-year-old Federer`s career seem all the more miraculous.

Seeking a 21st Grand Slam title and a record seventh in Melbourne, the Swiss will plough into his 20th consecutive Australian Open on Monday with a first round clash against Uzbek Denis Istomin.

 

While suffering an assortment of niggles common to all hardened professionals, Federer`s only major layoff came in 2016, after he tore his meniscus when running a bath for his twin daughters.

It happened a day after losing the Australian Open semi-final to winner Novak Djokovic, but a year later, he was back raising a fifth trophy at the tournament.

While knowing the limits of his body and full of praise for his team for being able to patch him up repeatedly, Federer admitted that fortune had played a part in his longevity.

“I definitely needed a little bit of luck,” he told reporters at Melbourne Park.

“If you look at how unlucky things were with the incident here a few years ago when I ran the bath, I guess the knee, that part of the body was ready to go.

“Could have happened easily in the match against Novak, but it didn`t, maybe because I was warmed up. I have no idea what happened. I think you also need a little bit of luck.”

The 31-year-old Murray has been far less fortunate, with major hip surgery a year ago doing nothing to stop the pain that has driven the Scot to distraction and the brink of retirement.

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Barcelona on lookout for striker after Munir sale: Coach Ernesto

Agencies

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London: Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said that the club were looking to sign a centre forward in the January transfer window after selling Munir El Haddadi to Sevilla.

The league leaders want back-up for Luis Suarez after Sevilla agreed a one-million-euro ($1.15-million) deal to buy Spain international Munir on Friday, leaving the Uruguayan as the only No. 9 at the club, playing between Lionel Messi and Ousmane Dembele.

“We have to look at it, it`s clear that after Munir`s departure we have a space,” Valverde told reporters on Saturday.

 

“We`ll see if we can sign a player, although we have to take into account the club`s economic conditions. We will see if we can, if someone comes.”

Asked about Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata, who has been linked to Barcelona in Spanish media reports, Valverde said: “I can only say the same thing — that he`s a great player, that he`s at another team, that we respect that a lot, etcetera.”

Barcelona are currently leading the La Liga with 40 points, with Atletico Madrid trailing them in second place with 35 points.

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