The cold ironbar seats were, however, no discomfort for the hooting and singing crowd, which cheered every pass, every dribble and every attempt to score a goal.
From a private school premises to the tourism office's courtyard, from a police compound to the floriculture department’s lawns, all were thrownopenaspark ing facilities on November 6 in Jammu and Kashmir’s capital Srinagar. The valley’s football enthusiasts were converging on the Srinagar Tourist Reception Centre’s as troturf ground to celebrate Real Kashmir’s first home match in the ILeague, the premier tournament of Indian football.
The seasoned Churchill Brothers Foot ball Club was the opponent and long before the game began, young and old jostled for a free entry into the ground to root for their team. The stands were named after local football veterans like MehrajudDin Wa doo and the late Muhammad Yousuf Dar and there came a point when the State Sports Council decided to stop the entry of fans “for security reasons.” Conservative estimates put the number of spectators at 5,000.
“I decided to take a day off from my school. I wanted to see professional players playing right in front of my eyes. It was happening for real. Being a football enthusiast, the league means more motivation. I was able to pick up a few tricks of the trade by observing the players. There are more games to come and more to learn and apply in my life,” said Rayees Rather, a Class 12 student of Sri Pratap College.
It was nature’s fury, to be precise the devastating floods of 2014, which made the team’s owner, Shamim Meraj, think of forming a squad of national repute. Nature, indeed, was the first to root for host Real Kashmir as for the first time in nine years, J&Kwitnessed heavy snowfall in the plains, including the capital, Srinagar, on Novem ber 3. The day temperature plummeted to 5 degree Celsius and the nights to subzero.
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December 1, 2018