In Kashmir after article 370 abrogations, it was for the first time that a football match between a local Real Kashmir football club and Chennai City Club was played at Srinagar last week. RKFC won the game against Chennai City Club and hogged the headlines in newspapers on front pages. In this harsh winter in a politically sensitive region organizing a game with such glamour was an unprecedented move. Visuals appearing form the stadium were breathtaking.
Hundreds of youth who witness the revival of their love for sports with this match were aghast for not allowing them to enter the stadium for administrative reasons. Some youths openly even admitting that they purchased tickets from agent’s since they failed to get from the official platform or book online due to internet gag. The fever among the spectators for the game had refused to die down despite many negative aspects prevailing over here.
The more visuals of young boys and girls shaking hands from the other side of the barricades with their players and cheering for them throughout the game busted the myths that Kashmiri youths have lost the love for game or have no more fun left in life. In other words, it was a complete entertainment. Before discussing the lessons that we need to learn from this event, let’s see in which conditions the game was played in Kashmir.
This game has signalled a positive sign for the government to restore the confidence of youth in Kashmir and pave way for expanding its scope. Be it social, political or economic issues, Kashmir’s youth is struggling on all fronts. In the last four decades, the political turmoil had squeezed his socio economic space.
The life in Kashmir is not fully restored yet after August 5 decision. Secondly: There is a freezing temperature since the harshest part of Chillai kalan began on December 21. Thirdly: the love for soccer among locals was overshadowed due to the growing fame of cricket, especially after Parveez Rasool became part of India’s international team.
Prior to this game, two more matches were scheduled to be played in Kashmir, however got cancelled due to inclement weather. The management of the tournament and the players on field even cherished this game in Kashmir in a unique and different weather that rather soothes the soccer. Among the spectators of the game, BJP’s Ram Madhav also made his presence as chief guest on the occasion and distributed awards among the meritorious players.
This game has signalled a positive sign for the government to restore the confidence of youth in Kashmir and pave way for expanding its scope. Be it social, political or economic issues, Kashmir’s youth is struggling on all fronts. In the last four decades, the political turmoil had squeezed his socio economic space. The official estimates suggest that nearly 6 lakh youths are unemployed in state off which a good number is highly educated.
The bleak economic opportunities have led many youth to drug addiction and the ignorance towards this severe issue by successive regimes has brought the number at alarming level. As the government is struggling now to mainstream the youth in Kashmir, it is equally caught on back foot how to get out the affected lot of this menace though they are yet to formulate any long term policy in this direction. The need of the hour is to make sports as part of youth’s life and build up the massive infrastructure across the region. The youth population in the region has no space for extracurricular activities.
This is despite the fact that in many games like football, cricket, martial art, Khokho Kashmir has produced talented players that proved their mettle at both national and intentional forums. Alone in football, so far 22 players hail from Kashmir that extensively represented India at national and international forums. However, lack of opportunities in the valley has prompted them to join the clubs in West Bengal, Punjab and other parts in South India.
Only recently, Mehraj Ud Din Wadoo a top soccer player returned Kashmir on government’s insistence to train the local players since he also played outside erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir State owing to poor infrastructure and bleak opportunities to grow here.
As the culture of sports is reviving with more enthusiasm in Kashmir, it is raising a mountain of responsibilities for the people in helm of affairs both in Srinagar and at Delhi to sustain this momentum and ensure the youth is engaged positively. As we are in federal democracy, change of guard shall never mean culmination of such activities. Besides, the infrastructure to come up for reviving sports culture in Kashmir shall be all weather.