Robertson: Talented Kashmiris suffering from isolation

Senior and youth players from the State aren’t being noticed, laments Real Kashmir FC coach.

Heralding change: Real Kashmir FC’s success is said to have brought forth a “big social movement.”   -  PTI

Despite their world-class talent, aspiring football players from Kashmir aren’t being noticed due to their isolation in the State, Real Kashmir FC’s Scottish coach David Robertson has observed.

Robertson oversaw a successful campaign with his side last season, helping it qualify for the I-League. The club became the first from the State to do so.

Read: 'Hope the success of Real Kashmir FC will bring a positive image to the State'

Roberston said, “Having played and coached at the highest level in Europe and in the U.S.A., I can confidently state that Kashmir has the talent equally as good if not better than the aforementioned continents. The sad and tough part for me is trying to get these senior and youth players noticed as they are isolated over here.”

‘Great talent pool’

Robertson was encouraged by the “great talent pool here in Kashmir.”

He said, “In my opinion, Kashmir needed a presence in the I-League and it has got one now. I now believe that children and youth will have the ambition to play professional football. It is a must. We took out the senior team out to Scotland to play four games against professional teams and we competed well. The team did so well that we have been invited back to play against them anytime we like in the future. There is such a great talent pool here in Kashmir that we need to focus on at a young age.”

‘Big social movement’

Real Kashmir FC’s success has brought forth a sense of optimism. Sandeep Chattoo and Shamim Meraj, the club’s directors, have described it as a “big social movement.”

In a joint statement, they said, “Real Kashmir for us started with a personal passion for the development of the sport in Kashmir. However, as it stands now it has become as a big social movement which brings hope and joy for the people of Kashmir.”

They added, “It is heartening to see such progress in such a short span. In this duration we did exceedingly well in the local leagues and ended up by winning the Second Division I-League and gate crashing into the I-League. We have extensive plans to promote young players from the region to give them opportunities and a platform to turn professionals not just to compete against the big historic clubs of India but also to play with them and who knows play for the Indian national team one day.”

The club plans to start a residential academy with licensed coaches and develop women’s football in the State.

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