NWE DELHI: Sometimes sport throws up stories of human spirit that you cannot help but watch with a warm smile, as Real Kashmir’s 2nd Division League success did on Wednesday.
Real Kashmir beat Hindustan FC 3-2 at Bengaluru’s FSV Arena to become the first team from Kashmir to qualify for I-League. The victory saw Real Kashmir clinching the 2017/18 2nd Division League title, as they finished their final round campaign with 7 points from 3 matches, 3 ahead of Hindustan FC. They may not have won in the most stylish way, but they were effective and are wearing gold medals around their necks.
Without a football league running in the state due to the political instability and lack of infrastructure, very few predicted Real Kashmir could shoot their way to the final round let alone to clinching the title. It was something that even their own fans struggled to believe at first.
They never featured as dark horses, least of all as favourites, and the reasons are not hard to find. It was only their second appearance in the 2nd Division League and they performed miserably last season failing to make past the preliminary round. Neither did they have some of the household names in their team. Hence the odds were understandably against them, while TRAU FC and Ozone FC were highly tipped as favourites with some expecting Hindustan FC to spring the surprise if there was to be any. However, Real Kashmir pulled the trigger on all three and shot them down one after the other.
The spectacular fairy tale run began on 24th May when Real Kashmir made mincemeat of Ozone FC in their opening match with a 3-2 victory. Although TRAU managed to pin them down to a 2-2 draw, but a resilient Real Kashmir held their nerve to beat 3-2 Hindustan FC in their last final round encounter to write the biggest chapter in the history of Kashmir football.
“I don’t have words to describe my emotions. Credit should go to the players. We don’t have a lot of big names in the team. The only thing that keeps us going is our hard work and dedication to the team. This is a great day for Kashmir football. There is still a lot of work ahead and we will need to prepare very well for next season. We want to add value to the great product of I-League.” Real Kashmir coach David Robertson said.