Soccer can bring around a change in Jammu and Kashmir as "football is in the blood of Kashmiris", I-league team Real Kashmir FC co-owner Sandeep Chattoo said in an interaction with visiting envoys to the union territory while narrating the experience of his club with local youths. (More Football News)
During the interaction which included a round table and one-on-one sideline meetings, Chattoo told the dignitaries that the promotion of sports, especially football, can bring around a change in Jammu and Kashmir.
"There are many streams of sports but I firmly believe that football is in the blood of Kashmiris. I am sure football can bring around a change and that change will be for generations to see," he said.
On Thursday (February 13), Real Kashmir were fourth in the league table with 15 points from nine matches, and can still mount a serious title challenge. Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan led the table with 26 points from 11 outings, ahead of Punjab FC (18 from 12), Gokulam Kerala (17 from 11).
"While many speakers ahead of me have talked about many issues. I have a different narrative. The first and foremost being that of engaging with the youth of the valley. And for that, I believe that sports is an umbilical cord which joins youth to the normalcy. I am proud to be the pioneer of such a club which ended the stalemate after August 5 developments last year," Chattoo said in the meeting held here Wednesday evening.
He said there were anxious moments about the concerns in the security establishment whether a football match should be allowed to hold or not.
"Finally some people believed in my conviction and the match was allowed. Rest is history as the outcome surprised many," he said.
Chattoo requested the government to step in and help any club which was engaged in promoting sports among the youth in Kashmir.
Besides the round table with envoys, he had separate interactions with German Ambassador Walter J Linder, French Ambassador Emmanuel Lenain and Charge''d''Affaires of New Zealand High Commission Grahame Morton.
The 25-member delegation of foreign envoys had arrived here on Wednesday on a two-day visit as part of a union government-facilitated trip to help them have a first-hand assessment of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, a region which faced months of harsh restrictions after its special status was stripped of in August.
The envoys were briefed about the security situation by Army officials at Badami Bagh Cantonment at Srinagar on Thursday, officials said.
(With PTI inputs)