New Delhi, July 30 : After Real Kashmir FC, another local club Downtown Heroes have grown into Kashmir and have become a part of the I-League Second Division, spreading their wings one step at a time with the prime aim of providing a platform for the local players.
“The Downtown area of Srinagar has a rich cultural history and is steeped in tradition. Over the years, sports have been a big part of the tradition in this area, with football being at its epicentre. It had become a place for instability in between, but we want to show the good side of this area, that those residing here are good, football-loving people,” Club co-founder Hinan Bhat was quoted by the AIFF website.
“Our club is in its infancy, but we take a lot of pride in giving a platform to local players, especially when we see them getting opportunities in bigger clubs in the I-League or the ISL (Indian Super League),” he added.
The likes of Abdul Majid, Arun Malhotra, Mehrajuddin Wadoo, and Ishfaq Ahmed have enthralled fans far and wide during their days, playing for top clubs across the land, and also representing the national team.
More recently, Kashmir’s Danish Farooq went from the I-League to the ISL, playing for clubs like Bengaluru FC and Kerala Blasters FC.
“It’s always an honour to see our local players at the top level. One of our own boys from Downtown Heroes, Basit Ahmed Bhat, was also recently signed by Gokulam Kerala, which was a moment of pride for us,” Head Coach Hilal Rasool Pareh said.
Downtown Heroes are currently playing in the J&K Premier Football League and the Martyrs Police Memorial Football Tournament, and will also take part in the Durand Cup next month.
“It shows that our club is going in the right direction when we got an invitation to play in a big tournament like the Durand Cup.
“It will be a very good platform for our boys to play against clubs from the ISL and the I-League,” said Pareh.
The club also operate two junior teams, the U-15s and the U-19s at the state level, with all the players across these two teams hailing from Kashmir.
Co-founder Hinan also plans to promote women’s football in Kashmir and planning to establish a women’s team within the next few months with the ultimate goal of participating in the Indian Women’s League down the line.
“We are planning to have our own ground as well in the future, one which we plan to use extensively for our women’s team too. Our idea is to come up with a women’s team in the next couple of months and play in the Indian Women’s League in the future.
“Although everyone loves football, the Downtown area of Srinagar is prone to conservative ideas, and we want to work towards women’s empowerment through our women’s team as well,” said Hinan.
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