Real Kashmir FC Continue Practice Despite Tension: Club Owner

The foreign players and footballers from other states are in Srinagar. There is no security issue: Sandeep Chattoo

Updated
Football
3 min read
File picture of Real Kashmir FC players training at the TRC Astro Turf in Srinagar.
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The situation has been tense in the valley since Thursday, 14 February, after 40 CRPF jawans lost their lives in Pulwama in the deadliest terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir in 30 years. Pulwama is around 30 kms from Srinagar but Real Kashmir FC have continued with their practice sessions.

Real Kashmir is the first football team from Kashmir to play in the country’s top tier league. With the I-league nearing its business end and Real Kashmir placed comfortably at the number 2 spot of the points table in their debut season, the side continues to stay focused.

“They (Real Kashmir FC) practiced yesterday (Friday). Today also they just finished practicing at the TRC Astro Turf in Srinagar.” 
Sandeep Chattoo, Real Kashmir FC owner to The Quint.

Amid the recent developments, security has been a contentious issue as Real Kashmir are slated to host Minerva Punjab FC on Monday, 18 February and Quess East Bengal on 28 February. Citing security reasons, the Punjab outfit has already asked the AIFF to move the location of their match from Srinagar or they might forfeit the match. A demand which has been denied by the All India Football Federation (AIFF).

Real Kashmir forward Danish Farooq (left), along with the owners Sandeep Chattoo (centre) and Shamim Meraj.
Real Kashmir forward Danish Farooq (left), along with the owners Sandeep Chattoo (centre) and Shamim Meraj.
(Photo: Twitter)

On Saturday, when The Quint contacted one of the owners, Sandeep Chattoo, he was busy with the security preparations for Monday’s match. It will be held in Srinagar as scheduled, I-League CEO Sunando Dhar confirmed on Saturday. Chattoo, along with the other owner Shamim Meraj and team’s star striker Danish Farooq were in Mumbai on Friday for an award show.

“From our side the match is on. The Minerva people might have some problem but from our side it is on. We have no issues.”
Sandeep Chattoo, Real Kashmir FC owner to The Quint.
File picture of Real Kashmir FC coach David Robertson (left) and captain Loveday Enyinnaya.
File picture of Real Kashmir FC coach David Robertson (left) and captain Loveday Enyinnaya.
(Photo: The Quint)

Real Kashmir have a host of foreign players, including their skipper Loveday Enyinnaya, who is from Nigeria. In fact, they have a Scottish coach David Robertson, whose son Mason Robertson also plays as a defender for the side. Their star player Gnohere Krizo is from Côte d’Ivoire.

With the volatile situation in the region, there might be panic among the foreign players. But Chattoo assured that they have the situation under control for the players and the support staff.

“All the foreign players and players from other states are here in Srinagar. I own a hotel (CH2) in Srinagar and that is the headquarters of RKFC. We are all staying there together and there is no issue at all.”
Sandeep Chattoo, Real Kashmir FC owner to The Quint.

Apart from the foreigners, Real Kashmir have players from other Indian states. There are four players from West Bengal, two from Manipur, one from Tamil Nadu. They continue to stay focused and passionate for the game.

Real Kashmir FC has a strong fan base at home who don’t miss a single game of the ‘Snow Leopards’. 
Real Kashmir FC has a strong fan base at home who don’t miss a single game of the ‘Snow Leopards’. 
(Photo: Twitter/@realkashmirfc)

Chattoo disagreed with a change in venue – since, in Srinagar, the team will be able to play for all its local fans.

“We don’t want to change the venue at all. Why should we lose our home fans! As far as security is concerned, there is no issue at all. From our side there will be full-proof security. The final call has to be taken by AIFF.”
Sandeep Chattoo, Real Kashmir FC owner to The Quint.

The Quint tried contacting Real Kashmir FC players and the coach, but they were not available for comments.

With three matches to go, Real Kashmir is nearing the end of their debut I-League campaign. And staying focused in such difficult times is just another example of their exemplary football journey.

(The Quint is available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)

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