From curfews to floodlights: Journey of the real diamonds of Kashmir

India usually takes great pleasure in their diversity. From the valleys of Srinagar to the coasts of Kanyakumari, the stark contrast is one of the most prominent reasons for the pride and beauty of India. The difference in lifestyle has a huge impact on the people and the nation as a whole.

For instance, the school kids living in Kashmir often manage through chaos, walk through valleys surrounded by trees for even hours to reach their school. Kids living in the valleys of Srinagar face different kinds of obstacles each day as they grow up. Amidst similar day to day sufferings, floods and political chaos due to the nature of the region, the sensational birth of Real Kashmir FC enfolded in front of the whole world.

The sensational journey of this club began when floods had a disastrous effect – destroying households and killing hundreds – back in 2014. Local friends, businessman Sandeep Chattoo and the editor of a local newspaper ‘Kashmir Monitor’, Shamim Meraj, saw multiple areas suffering and came forward to aid civilians in the process.

To take the mind off this disastrous tragedy and give the boys a purpose, both of them bought some footballs. They were taken aback by the sudden and increasing interest which spread through the community due to football. Motivated to bring a smile to the faces of people often riddled with militant groups and violence, both Chattoo and Shamim aspired to make something big out of this interest.

Since then, there has been no looking back for the owners of Real Kashmir FC. At the time, their team entered the preliminaries of second division without a sponsor and got knocked out. But the hard work and tenacity of the resilient group from the valleys of chaos was hard to knock off and they were rewarded soon as they won the second division a year later.

As a result, Real Kashmir FC became the first team to feature in the I-League from Kashmir. They have been beaten once in the three games they played so far this season. Their participation is massive considering the political conditions of the state they live in. But they have shown their grit and determination on the pitch to mount a serious challenge while participating for the first time.

The revival of football in the valleys is led by the club despite various obstacles coming in their way. Football fans over the whole country crave for a sight of superstars like Leo Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar Jr. while the real superstars of India are working in silence. Speak about the professionalism which comes with the cut-throat competition in this day and age, the unifying effect of football is what makes football so beautiful and great.

They say diamonds are made under high pressure as they endure high temperature and same goes for young guns in the team of Real Kashmir FC. Despite their enforced sufferings, their heroism is now evident in each and every street of India. Be it Iceland or our Real Kashmir FC, the phenomenal rise of these minnows is an inspiration and a benchmark for all of us to follow.


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