Senior footballer recalls: This game reminded me of my past
Srinagar, Nov 6: On a pleasantly-cold November afternoon, emotions soared high as Real Kashmir FC team lined up to enter the Astro Turf TRC Stadium here.
As the referee placed the ball at the centre, a crowd of students, donning green uniforms, in the audience bursted into elated shrieks of “apna Danish, apna Danish (our Danish, our Danish)”.
It was for the first time in the history of Kashmir that a native football club attained the feat to enter into the country’s top I- league.
Buoyed with the performance of the local club in the second division football, at least 6,000 ecstatic spectators had gathered inside the stadium to cheer for Real Kashmir FC.
Muhammad Amin Wadoo, an octogenarian footballer who had come from old city’s Rainawari, has seenfor the first time such a huge crowd in his life time watching a football match.
“I used to play football in 1965 and people then also loved to watch the game. But everything has changed now as the game again is gaining grounds in the valley,” he said, clearing the dust from his pheran (traditional cloak).
Baring November cold, Wadoo said the popularity of the club and star players such as Danish Farooq in particular caught his attention to leave for the stadium.
“It remembered me of my past. I pray that the game again flourishes in the valley and our boys show the world that we are not beyond any other team of the world,” he said.
Similarly, Shujaat Saleem, an employee of Software Company in New Delhi who recently came for his holidays said that he specially dedicated his Tuesday for this match.
“It is awesome feeling to cheer for a local team. One of our native teams is doing well and you can’t steal an opportunity to see them performing,” he said.
As per an official, it has been for the first time that the stadium since its establishment received such a huge number of spectators.
“It has been only few years that Astro turf was established here. But the gathering I saw today was enormous so far,” he said.
Valleys ace footballer, Ishfaq Ahmad said he instantly booked an air ticket to watch the prestigious match in his home town.
“Today, I am emotionally drained to see that our football club has made it to I-league. It is a proud moment for all of us and I couldn’t hold my excitement and came here to watch the game,” he said.
Ahmad said he had desired to play for the club. “But I am busy with some other professional commitments right now.”
Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, and many other officials and sportsmen including Ranji Trophy cricketers Mabzoor Pandav and Adil Reshi had attended the event to cheer for the Real Kashmir FC.
Deputy Commissioner, Syed Abid Shah, who said he too is a football freak appreciated the support shown by the general public for the native team.
“We have been waiting for this match. We have done whatever arrangement we could do and more will be done in the coming time to make such events successful,” he said.
Although the match ended draw, a heroic welcome was seen for the club, with hundreds of people gathering near the dressing room to get a glimpse of the players.