Jammu and Kashmir got its first government-sponsored football academy, which was inaugurated in Srinagar yesterday. The first batch consists of 100 boys in the age group of 13 and 18 who will be coached by a team of professional footballers led by star National player Mehrajuddin Wadoo.
J&K has been undergoing a period of violence and turmoil but Friday brought a smile in the form the football academy which is supported by the J&K Sports Council.
"There are forces in Kashmir who don't want people to smile, they have robbed the smile from their faces, we can't brag we change everything, but we have made a small start," said Sports Minister Imran Ansari.
One hundred boys were shortlisted after a six-days selection trial from a group of 1,000 aspirants.
"What is important is how we nurture and groom the talent, we have qualified coaches and fitness trainers, they will train under them," said
Kashmir has produced impressive footballers over the years.
"If we don't pay attention to strikes, we will reach our destination. What is that? I want to become a successful international football player," said Mohammad Hazim, a trainee at the academy.
"I play football, but I can't say I play perfect football, to make my game perfect, I joined this academy," said Moosa, another trainee at the academy.
The political instability in Kashmir has badly affected life in the state and the football academy is being seen as a way to help make a difference to the youth there.