The I-League football game played in Srinagar on Tuesday between hosts Real Kashmir and the famous Churchill Brothers of Goa is without doubt one of the more memorable episodes to occur in the Valley in a long time, with the beautiful game itself returning to Kashmir after 20 years. This is an event that would give Kashmir pride and self-confidence and also thrill in undertaking a massive constructive effort so far removed from shootings and bomb blasts that have been staple fare in recent years. This itself is an achievement.
The game was a goalless draw. But who cares? The boys played very well, and nearly scored twice against a fancied side. Real Kashmir had recently beaten Minerva FC Punjab, who were at the top of the table, and in spite of the draw against Goa are currently placed at number three.
The I-League permits players from anywhere to be a part of any club side. Thus, Real Kashmir, like the Goa club, too had players from other states and also overseas players, and a Scottish coach.
The game showcased Kashmir’s local talent and potential splendidly. It underlined that youth power can be tapped for team spirit and results in every field. It was a demonstration that bad politics and faulty policies alone are holding Kashmir back, letting the energy of the youth drift into negative pathways. If this lesson is learnt by the J&K government and by New Delhi, much good would have come out of the football match, which will doubtless become a part of Kashmiri folklore....