In what will be a historic moment for Indian football, Real Kashmir FC gears up to become the first football club from Jammu and Kashmir to feature in Hero I-League when they make their debut this season.
The club grabbed the opportunity with both hands after clinching the 2017-18 Second Division League title, and in the process securing promotion to the Hero I-League. However, not many may be aware of their journey to the top-tier of Indian football.
It is believed that the club from J&K managed to create a name for themselves in the Indian football scene without sponsors in their first two seasons. And now according to several reports, the Kashmir outfit have got the backing of global sportswear brand - Adidas.
Real Kashmir FC midfielder Danish Farooq remains confident of a good show, despite the difficult conditions prevailing in the valley. While hoping that the current scenario in the valley doesn't affect the club's progress, Danish insisted that getting an opportunity to play in the top division in itself is a big thing for the team.
"Playing in the top division of I-League means a lot to us. We will give our best. The hostile conditions prevailing in the valley do not hinder our progress. We fully concentrate on our game. Since the arrival of Dave, our skills have considerably improved," he stated.
Danish also lauded the coach for recognizing the skills of the players and creating a well-balanced squad. Another midfielder Shanawaj Bashir said that it is like a dream come true, while assuring the team will give its hundred percent on the pitch. "Our dreams have come true and we will definitely perform better," he said.
On the other hand, coach Dave Robertson, has placed his confidence in his players saying that the I-League is a big platform for the squad. "I-league is really big platform for the lads. They possess the skills and I am only trying to tune them. The team can give a good competition," he asserted.
Meanwhile, the I-League among the top three nominations shortlisted by the Asian Football Confederation for the SPIA Award in the 'Best Developing Football League of the Year' category.
The 2018-19 edition of the Hero I-League kicks off on October 26, with Chennai City FC hosting AIFF's development side Indian Arrows in the league season opener which will be played at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Coimbatore.
Which will be followed by defending champions Minerwa Punjab FC taking on Goan heavyweights Churchill Brothers FC at the Tau Dev Lal Stadium in Chandigarh on October 28. Real Kashmir FC will play their first match of the tournament against Minerva Punjab FC on October 31.