NEW DELHI: Following an initiative taken by country’s largest paramilitary force – CRPF, two Kashmiri boys have been selected to play football as centre forward and winger for a division of Spanish football league, known for its famous top division – La Liga. It is for the first time that any Indian will play in the Spanish league, claimed Central Reserve Police Force.
The move comes at a time when Kashmir is recovering from the prolonged violence in the aftermath of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani’s killing.
CRPF, which has been primarily accused of using force on the protestors in the valley since July, decided to encourage Kashmiri youths by taking part in the sports.
It partnered with Football Next Foundation to identify and encourage the best talent in the sport in Kashmir valley.
A tie-up was made with Sociedad Deportiva Lenense, Proinastur club, which is a third division professional club from the famous league in Spain.
CRPF said that the club agreed to take on contract players from Kashmir for the position of centre forward and winger for the coming 2017 January transfer window.
A three-member selection committee conducted trials of many boys in Kashmir after which two boys – Basit Ahmed and Mohammed Asrar Renbar have been selected. Both of them are residents of Srinagar and are students of 12th standard.
“It may be mentioned here that this will be for the first time that any Indian player will be seen playing for a Spanish club,” said IG Operations Kashmir Zulfikar Hassan, who is behind the initiative.
“Jammu and Kashmir has a long history of good football. It has produced top class players who have gone on to play at both national and international level. Abdul Majid was the trail blazer of this region. He has captained the national side and has many international achievements. There are also present sensations like Ishfaq Ahmed and Mehrajuddin Wadoo,” said Hassan.
He added, “Basir and Asrar are very bright. We hope that they rise to the occasion and go on to play in the Indian national team”.
Hassan says that the selection committee for selecting two boys for the Spanish league had Anit Ghosh, Ishfaq Ahmed and Hilal Rasool Parray. Anit Ghosh, a product of the Tata Football Academy, Jamshedpur and former member of the Indian football team from 1994 to 1999, has played in various national and international tournaments. He represented India sub juniors in Iran and South Korea in 1994, Asian Games, Bangkok-1998, has captained East Bengal, and has played for famous teams like Mohun Bagan, Mohameddan Sporting Club, Kolkata, Churchill Brothers, Goa etc. Ghosh trained in countries like Germany, Holland, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia.
Ishfaq Ahmed is a famous professional footballer presently with Kerala Blasters in the Indian Super League. He had started his career in 2002 and has played for Dempo, Mohun Bagan, Salgaocar and East Bengal. He also scored a goal in his debut international appearance against Turkmenistan in the U-23 tournament.
Hilal Rasool Parray, a coach from Kashmir, has played in various tournaments like Santosh Trophy (1999 and 2002), Federation Cup (1997, 98), Durand Cup (2001), and attended various seminars and workshops relating to football coaching.
CRPF itself has a similar history of excellence in sports. The force has in its ranks one Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, two Padma Shris and 16 Arjuna Awardees.