From the shadow of guns in Srinagar to football grounds in Spain, it will be a long journey for two Kashmiri boys who will be the first Indians to play in the prestigious Spanish league.
Basit Ahmed and Md Asrar Rehbar, both aged 18, will play with Sociedad Deportiva Lenense Proinastur – a third division professional club from the Spanish La Liga – for a full season of about 6 months.
La Liga is the national football league in Spain.
Ahmed, a centre-forward, and Rehbar, a winger, hail from Srinagar and were chosen by a special committee formed by the CRPF to pick footballing talent from the Kashmir Valley as part of its initiative to engage with the youth.
The paramilitary force also entered into a contract with the foreign club as part of the talent drive it undertook.
“The club has agreed to take on contract the two players in the January window. This is the first time that any Indian player will be playing for the Spanish club,” a senior official said.
“Football is a very popular game in Jammu and Kashmir. The valley has produced top class players who have gone on to play at both the national and international level. Mr Abdul Majid was the trail blazer of this region. He has captained the National side and has many international achievements. The present sensations like Ishfaq Ahmed and Mehrajuddin Wadoo are the products of this tradition”, a CRPF press release said.
Both players have played national juniors, with Rehbar having played in the Santosh and Durand tournaments, and were chosen from among many who took part in trials by the CRPF committee in coordination with the Jammu and Kashmir football club.
All expenses of the two youngsters will be paid by the Spanish club as per the terms of the contract signed by the Central Reserve Police Force with them.