Kolkata, Jan 6: As extra five minutes ended with an announcement of Real Kashmir FC’s win, a strong, cheering voice reverberated from the eastern side of the Salt Lake stadium.
Umar Najar, a 24-year-old Kashmiri lad from Budgam, was waving his shirt and rhythmically chanting “Kashmir Jeetega…Kashmir Jeetega”.
He was followed by his group of around a dozen youth – all RKFC fans, who had traveled all the way from Kashmir to watch the ‘Snow Leopards’ play against Mohun Bagan.
“We have watched all the games of RKFC and didn’t want to miss the match against Mohun Bagan, who last time defeated RKFC in Kashmir,” he said.
Umar said he, on November 20, had promised a Mohun Bagan supporter, who had then visited to support his team playing in Kashmir, that he too will visit Kolkata when RKFC again plays Bagan in their away match.“We knew that RKFC will win here and entered into a sort of bet with the Mohun Bagan supporter. He is my friend now and we wanted to avenge them for the last defeat in November,” he said.
Umar said that he watched all the home matches of RKFC and had cheered for the team along with his friends.“I have clicked selfies with all the RKFC footballers. We too are footballers but couldn’t play professionally like them,” he said.
Umar Farooq Malik, another RKFC fan, said he adored the native club since its victory in the second division of I-League.“We used to watch the matches either on television or on smartphones. Then we decided to support our team at the ground here and made banners at home,” he said.
Many Kashmiris, who work in Kolkata, had a perfect Sunday watching their native team defeat the biggest name in Indian football.
“My son is a businessman and had asked me to visit here. Yesterday, I came to know that Kashmir’s football team will play at Salt Lake and decided to watch the game. It reminded me of my days when football was more popular in the valley,” said Ghulam Muhammad Bhat, a resident of Saida Kadal.
Scores of the local children dressed in uniforms also were seen cheering for RKFC.“The team is new and is doing well in the league. We love to watch them play,” said Sankar Chakraborthy, a student.