Football gaining popularity in J&K

Jammu and Kashmir coach Hilal says the interest in the game increased substantially in the valley ever since the first professional club in the State, the Lonestar Kashmir FC, gained the right to play in the second division I- league.

Jammu and Kashmir football team coach Hilal Rasool Parray.   -  Special Arrangement

Players of Jammu and Kashmir and Services in action during their football match at the 2016 Santosh Trophy.   -  PTI

Football in Jammu and Kashmir is gaining in popularity and is now being played through out the year in the State, says Hilal Rasool Parrey, the head coach of the Jammu and Kashmir football team, which is participating in the 70th National Football championship for the Santosh Trophy here in Nagpur.

Hilal, who in 2014 became the first coach from Jammu and Kashmir and only one from North India to complete the AFC pro license course, says the interest in the game increased substantially in the valley ever since the first professional club in the State, the Lonestar Kashmir FC, gained the right to play in the second division I- league.

“Earlier football used to be played only during summer in the valley. Now we play throughout the year. Thanks to good work done by the JKFA, we have lot of players coming up through the grassroots level development programme. There are lot of people who want to invest in the game in Kashmir. The future of the game looks very bright indeed. Our aim is to produce two or three good players every year to the national team,” says Hilal, who has conducted coaching courses for coaches in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir.

Hilal says his role is not limited only to coaching players and as a coach he has a multiple roles to perform. “When I went to Japan as part of my pro license programme. The coaching programme followed there was an eye opener for me. A coach should not only nurture players but also should know how to manage the various aspects of football. He should multi task and take care of all arrangement including practice, grounds and support staff etc. I have tried to follow the same principles and tried to impart it here,” says Hilal, whose first assignment was with the AIFF under-14 academy in Kolkatta. “I only handpicked Dheeraj Singh, the current under-17 goalkeeper, when he came for trails. I am so happy that he is doing well,” added Hilal.

Hilal has been happy with the performance of young Jammu & Kashmir side in this Santosh Trophy football championship. “We did well to qualify for this tournament from North Zone. The boys are young and it was an exposure trip for them. They have impressed well and played well in patches. What we have now is a foundation of a young squad which will only get better with years to come. In two to three years time we will be able to challenge the best in the country,” concluded the coach.

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