Home Fans Are Our Twelfth Man: Real Kashmir FC Striker Danish
Cameraperson: Hashim Ahmad Hakeem
Video Editor: Vishal Kumar
Football lovers in Kashmir had lots to cheer about on Tuesday when the valley hosted its first ever I-League game and hundreds of fans, including former chief minister Omar Abdullah, turned up to root for the local team, Real Kashmir FC.
As clouds made way for the sun after four days of overcast weather, the fans descended on the valley's lone football stadium the Astroturf TRC ground in Srinagar.
Overlooked by snow-capped mountains and fiery Chinar trees, the TRC ground came to life as the match between Real Kashmir FC and Churchill Brothers SC which ended in a 0-0 draw.
The opportunity to watch top-level football players along with the enthusiasm to support the home team drew people from the city and other districts of the valley to witness the game.
Slowly, every seat in the stadium was filled and many fans were not able to find a spot for themselves.
While the crowd welcomed both the teams with a loud applause, the stadium reverberated with slogans favouring the home team. Young and old alike cheered for them and enjoyed every bit of the game.
The boisterous home crowd was behind its team on its every move but felt disappointed when the team could not convert the chances into goals.
Real Kashmir FC’s Danish Farooq also expressed hope that many youth would choose football as their future.
Farooq said it was a proud moment for the team to play at home.
For Real Kashmir FC and Farooq, the crowd acted as the ‘Twelfth Man’.
“It (crowd) was a boost for our confidence. The crowd acted as the twelfth man. We hope that more people will come to watch us in the future games and we will play better in upcoming matches.” added Farooq, who was declared Man of the Match.
"This match is very exciting for several reasons. First, it is the first time that a match of such a prestigious league is being played in Srinagar. Second, it is our own team which is playing," Shabir Ahmad, a football enthusiast, said.
Ahmad, however, said he felt disappointed that the team could not score.
"They had good chances but could not convert them into goals. We felt a bit disappointed, but overall, they played really well and we had a good game to watch," he said.