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Can Real Kashmir keep their date with history?


By Asif M.D Hajra

Srinagar, May 28: Imagine! It is half past 7 on 30th May, 2018. Sports Analyst on Doordarshan (Srinagar) is busy packing his bag and the anchor has already jotted down the match summary which reads “….aur iss tarah Real Kashmir FC nei ek nayi tareekh likh di. Pehli baar koi state team I-league (2nd division) champion ban kar I-league (main) ke liye qualify kar gayi..”. Gosh! The team has won it.


With the final two matches scheduled on 30th, I-League 2nd Division is set for an epic finish as Real Kashmir FC would face Hindustan FC in the final match day of the league at FSV Arena in Bengaluru. A draw for Real Kashmir would see them qualify for the upcoming I-League while Hindustan FC have must-win situation to face.

Real Kashmir FC is all set to become trailblazer. Provided the win/draw, it would be the first team ever in the modern history of state football (post 2008 – the year of inception of I-league) that a state team would qualify for the top flight 10-team national football league of the country. Moreover, Real Kashmir FC would be only the 3rd team from the whole northern region (the other team being Minerva Punjab FC and Indian Arrows) to compete for upcoming I-league along with the mighty East Bengal, Mohun Bagan, Churchill Brothers, Aizawl FC etc.

Interestingly, the undergoing final round of I-league (2nd Division) has become all the more popular here with the live telecast on Doordarshan and further completed by expert analysis. Match telecast has of course rejuvenated the football audience of the state and so has been the performance of Real Kashmir FC, which has rekindled the hope of the people. Moreover, it has helped the state to stake a claim on the apex of the game and it is set to regain the fanfare of 60s and 70d when football which used to be watched from the roof tops of Bakshi Stadium.

More than anything else, another win by Real Kashmir FC would mean completion of one of the most remarkable stories in the history of Kashmiri football. Playing in I-league for a team which comes from the most vulnerable state. It would instill confidence among all the stakeholders in the football talent of the state.

Final win would give recognition to the local talent like Danish, Hammad, Ifham who deserve to make it to the highest level in the country. For David – the head coach of Real Kashmir FC, the win would be a token of acknowledgement of his sacrificing lucrative offers from China and Africa only to coach a new team. For Shamim – the owner, promotion to I-league would mean fulfillment of his quest for self-actualization which he has been craving for two years now. Shamim along with his friends during 2014 floods had dreamt of planting and nurturing some green avenue for the frustrated youth of the state. A win holds a meaning full of emotions for Shamim!

For the city of Srinagar, being the home of Real Kashmir FC, winning this I-league (2nd Division) would increase its profile on the football map of the state. Participating in I-league the next season would mean Srinagar hosting the home matches and thus will have the legacy of improved football venues, better infrastructure and transportation systems to cater to visiting fans from Bengal, North East, Goa and other cities whose teams must be eyeing to win the I-league next season.

This I-league (2nd Division) holds a lot of meaning for you, for me, for the players. In fact for all. Above all, this I-league Real Kashmir is set to create history!