Lonestar Kashmir FC, the first and only professional football club from the trouble torn valley, are in the city for their all-important Hero I-League Second Division opener against Kenkre FC at Cooperage today.
Lonestar Kashmir FC players train at the Goan Sporting Association ground on Saturday ahead of their I-League Second Division opener against Kenkre FC at Cooperage today. Pic/Bipin Kokate
The club, formed after the devastating floods in Kashmir in September that took numerous lives and destroyed hundreds of homes, finished second last season. But coach Hilal Rasool, an AFC Pro Licence, who was earlier part of the All India Football Federation's U-17 set-up, is confident his wards can go the distance this time.
"We have picked 14 players from home soil and a few from outside the state and began training three months in advance. This team is gelling very well," he said.
Kamal Jeet captain of the Lonestar Kashmir FC outfit is proud to see his boys play the beautiful game against all odds.
"I am glad to see football rise in Jammu and Kashmir. As a state, we've been through many problems but it's very satisfying to see the boys continue to play football."
The Second Division is being played on a home and away format for the first time, and coach Rasool is grateful to the AIFF for this. "It's a great move to promote football across the nation," he said.