From downtown Srinagar to the sensitive Pulwama, Bandipora or Sopore, football fever has gripped the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, thanks to a plethora of activities being carried out by the trailblazing Real Kashmir FC. RKFC chairperson Sandeep Chattoo on Tuesday met Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju and apprised him of the work being done by the club towards promotion of football in the valley as well as the issues facing it at the moment.Impressed by RKFC's commitment to the game, Rijiju assured the club full cooperation.
"The central government is committed to support football as well as all sports in Jammu and Kashmir," Rijiju told PTI. "I will visit Kashmir soon to review all the sports projects," added the sports minister. Chattoo was also optimistic after the meeting that lasted about half an hour. "I apprised the minister of the things we are doing for the sport, we spoke about how football has caught the fancy of people in Kashmir. Not just football but other sports activities are also being held regularly," Chattoo said."Be it the downtown or Kupwara, Sopore, Pulwama, Bandipora Shopian or Anantnag, it is being played everywhere and it is such a wonderful feeling seeing them play," added Chattoo, the man behind the incredible transformation.
RKFC has been assured by the honourable Sports Minister about the central government’s committment to supporting football and all sporting activities in Jammu & Kashmir. @JKSportsCouncil @KirenRijiju @PMOIndia @ILeagueOfficial pic.twitter.com/QXbScR4APK
— Real Kashmir FC (@realkashmirfc) October 27, 2020
The role of local administration is also very important to the growth of sports in the valley and the more they are involved, the better it is for football and all other games. Teams from most of these places go up against the reserve squad of Real Kashmir Football Club. In a matter of only four years, RKFC has set benchmarks that many others are trying to follow. From securing promotion to I-League to finishing third in its maiden season, to setting up an all-women's team -- which will compete at national tournaments -- RKFC has achieved praiseworthy feats in a very short time and against heavy odds.
They have four men's teams at the moment. Kids as young as 4 to 10-year-olds are being trained by RKFC. "We have the main men's team, a reserve team, one U-18 and one U-13 outfit. Besides, we now also have an U-17 and U-14 women's team. Adidas continues its partnership with us and we have also added the Delhi Public School as part of our #shepower campaign," Chattoo said. In September, Real Kashmir Football Club had announced the formation of an all-women's team.
Chattoo believes that "girls have tremendous sporting potential and can go miles if trained properly". During his meeting with Rijiju, the RKFC chairperson also discussed with him the issue of granting visa to the club's foreign players and support staff, including head coach David Robertson and his two assistants, for the upcoming I-League that is scheduled to be held in Kolkata from December.