Srinagar, Oct 10: “I learned all about life with a ball at my feet,” was Brazil legend Ronaldinho’s take on what football meant to him. And it’s a sentiment that Real Kashmir FC would probably identify with after adjusting to the valley’s “curfews and cordons” courtesy the ‘beautiful game’.
The first club from Jammu and Kashmir to qualify for the I-League is slowly building up to that dream debut on the big stage when they take on Churchill Brothers on November 6 at home turf.
“We can be the positive story coming from Kashmir. I appreciate the media for putting out the good word. Now it is for us to do all the hard work and shine, we have no other option,” says the team’s veteran mid-fielder Khalid Qayoom.
Qayoom and the rest of the squad enjoyed a day out in Srinagar recently, cheering on the players of an under-18 state championship match at the TRC Turf Ground recently.
The two-year old club has become the first club from the valley to qualify for the I-League by beating Delhi’s Hindustan FC 3-2 in Bengaluru.
Qayoom spoke about the many reasons why football has a “huge following” in the valley.
“Mehraj (former India player Mehrajuddin Wadoo) and Ishwaq Ahmed are the reason so many people want to become footballers. They are our role models. People see them as stars of the valley. God willing if we do better in I-League people will think the same way for us also,” he said.
The crowd at the match he was watching was rather thin, mostly outside, thanks to the weekly flea market — starting from the ground to the Hari Singh High Street.
Inside the ground, the decibel levels were significantly lower. Though not empty, the stands were mostly vacant.
“Buck up”, screamed Qayoom, joined by fellow mid-fielders Shahnawaz Bashir and Danish Farooq.
This got the spectators involved, and what followed was a goal by Maharaja Sports.
“And now you will see the goalkeeper of Maharaja Sports team bowing down in direction of the mosque and thank the lord,” whispered a spectator to his young child, pointing to the mosque next to the stadium.
And this is exactly what happened a moment later.
“This photograph should make for the sports pages in local newspapers tomorrow,” murmured another fan.
It was game on for everyone present in the ground now.
“Because of the cold there are less spectators today, otherwise in summer, and also when we will play the I-League matches here by God’s will, you will see the stadium jam-packed ,” Qayoom, an ardent Cristiano Ronaldo fan, said.
His father was also a footballer though not a professional one like Danish’s father. Qayoom said after long there is excitement in the valley.
“Right now I think of myself as the luckiest person in the valley who is getting to live his dream, he said gleefully.
Building the team up for the big challenge ahead is coach David Robertson — ex- Rangers and Aberdeen player. The Scot said it feels like home here.
Robertson is keen to improve not just players’ skills but also his Hindi and loves to flaunt the new words and phrases he has been picking up — sometimes without even asking.
“Jaldi, jaldi… I use that a lot,” he said smiling.
That said, making football a career in J&K is easier said than done. Qayoom knows all about it.
“Had things been peaceful in the valley, had the administration supported us, had the government supported us, I would have achieved this thing (making I-League cut) eight years back,” said Qayoom, who will be turning 30 next year.
Khalid rued the fact that state has literally no infrastructure for any sport.
The TRC Turf Ground, the club’s home ground for the upcoming I-League season which boasts of an imported synthetic turf, had nothing else to offer for the longest time and is now being spruced up.
The facility, however, is yet to receive clearance from officials as a venue to host I-League matches.
“The infrastructure here has only gone from bad to worse. We have the Bakshi stadium, which is now being turned into an international ground, but that could have easily been done 10 years ago. We are lagging far behind when compared to other states,” he added.
For someone who started playing football at the age of 14, Qayoom, a resident of downtown Srinagar, also spoke about the political turmoil and the “curfews and strikes” that affected his growth as a player,
“They harm your day-to-day life, not only football,” he pointed out.
“We have been facing this situation all our life now. So yes we now know the tricks, we know how to tackle curfews, we know how to escape from the cordons,” he said.
“We had to adjust somehow. Like, here also usually our practice starts at 9 in the morning, if there is a curfew or strike we come at 7 only,” he said.
But that stopped bothering Qayoom and other players of the team long back. All they want to do is shine, and shine now.
Are they in ‘jaldi, jaldi?’, you bet.
Tribunal serves notice to Jamaat-e-Islami
Srinagar, Apr 19: The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Tribunal, constituted by the Centre, has issued a show cause notice to Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu Kashmir (JeI), which was banned by the government in February, asking it why the organisation cannot be declared as an unlawful association.
“A notice is hereby given under sub-section (2) of Section 4 of the Act (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act) and you are hereby called upon to show cause, within 30 days from the date of service of this notice, as to why your Association, declared as unlawful, be not adjudicated to be so and why an order confirming such declaration be not made under Section 4(3) of the Act,” said the notice issued by Registrar, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Tribunal, Lorren Bamniyal, to the JeI.
The notice was issued on April 5.
The Tribunal asked the Jamaat to file objections or reply affidavits, if any, before the next date of hearing of the Tribunal at the office of the Registrar.
“In case the objections/reply and the documents are in regional language, true English translation thereof be also attached. You may appear through a duly authorised person before the Tribunal on 20 May, 2019 at 3 PM in Court Room number 26 for further proceedings,” the notice said.
The Centre had constituted the tribunal headed by a Delhi High Court judge to decide whether there is sufficient cause for declaring the JeI as an unlawful association.
The Ministry of Home Affairs on March 23 had issued a notification which states that Justice Mukta Gupta would head the tribunal set up under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
The government in its February 28 notification had banned the JeI, saying it was of the opinion that the Jamaat is “in close touch with militant outfits” and is supporting “extremism and militancy” in Jammu and Kashmir and elsewhere.
It said the outfit claims “secession of a part of the Indian territory from the Union” and supporting terrorist and separatist groups fighting for this purpose.
The action came following the February 14 attack in Pulwama that killed over 40 CRPF personnel.
Two militants killed in Rafiabad gunfight:Reports
Srinagar, Apr 19: Multiple gunshots were heard in Malpora Watergam area of Rafiabad in North Kashmir’s Baramulla district on Friday evening.
Sources said that at around 8:55 pm, unknown persons fired a volley of bullets in paddy fields in Malpora Watergam village of Rafiabad.
Sources said that a joint team of Army’s 32RR and Jammu and Kashmir Police’s SOG cordoned off the area in Malpora Watergam after credible inputs about presence of militants.
They said that as the forces laid the siege, gunshots were heard from the area.
SP Sopore Javid Iqbal said that “we are verifying the incident.”
He said that a cordon has been launched in the area.
Unconfirmed reports at the time of filing this report said that two militants were killed during the gunfight that ensued soon after.
Budgam: NC worker of 4 decades stays away from polls
Srinagar, Apr 18: Outside a two-storey Government Girls Higher Secondary High School in Ichigam village of Budgam, a man donning a chequered pheran loudly quipped at every person entering the polling booth to cast his or her vote on Thursday.
He argued with them over the performance of their elected leaders in the past as agents of political parties tried hard to convince him to cast his vote or stay away from others who wanted to.
Ghulam Hassan, in his 60s, has been an avid supporter of National Conference (NC) at Ichigam for the last 40 years.
Having worked hard over the years to lure voters for NC, Hassan, Thursday, was one among those who sidelined from the party and preferred not to vote.
He said the previous regimes failed to develop his area due to which he had decided to boycott and also not to “befool” people in this Lok Sabha election.
“It was the only option available with me. I have been supporting the party (NC) ever since I became eligible to caste vote. But it didn’t benefit me nor people of my area,” he said.
Hassan, who as per locals, would often engage himself in heated arguments with political rivals during elections, was dejected over the state of roads and growing unemployment in his village.
“I have two sons, who are sitting idle at home. Many students here have completed their higher studies and haven’t got a job. These politicians appear only during elections and forget their promises once they are elected,” he said.
Hassan said the idea of boycotting the election was way better than living with a hope of some relief from the politicians.
“Under these circumstances, it is better that you vote for a candidate who is trustworthy. But we are short of such candidates,” he said.
When agents attempted “tricking” him by saying his vote would secure Article 370 and 35-A, he replied, “Many among you have voted and let us see how your vote will benefit Kashmir,” he said.
Few metres away in another polling booth in Ichigam, Ghulam Muhammad Dar voiced similar concerns but said he voted after trusting the candidate for one last time.
“I have been casting my vote for the last 50 years and have seen how these politicians befool people. But this is going to be my last vote if the candidate didn’t work for the development and safeguarding special position of Kashmir,” he said.