Kashmir football league ” Home Away From Home”
March 23, 2017 might seem to be an insignificant date for most people, but for over 100 guys in a land far away from home, it means a lot. It is the final of the 2nd edition of the Kashmir Football League (KFL) in Dubai, UAE.
After a month and a half of exhilarating football, it has come down to this day, the grand finale between two teams whose names remind us, of two of the most beautiful tourist spots, not only in Kashmir but in the entire world (Gulmarg and Sonmarg)
Every Friday evening for the last month and a half, Lights at the BITS Pilani Dubai campus grounds were fully lit.
Aharbal Dragons, Gulmarg Leopards, Pahalgam Rangers, Sonmarg Stallions, Wular Warriors and Zabarwan Hawks were fighting it out on the football ground, for pride and glory, for their love of the game and above all for bragging rights within the close knit Kashmiri community in the UAE.
KFL started last year with 4 teams and was conceived by a few young Kashmiri boys, who played football for fun once a week mostly to de-stress and bond with a few fellow Kashmiris after a hectic work week, and what better way to do that than play the sport you love.
This year KFL went a step further with 6 teams fighting for the coveted prize, played outdoors on lush green grass at the BITS campus and has had an audience every game cheering their teams on the sidelines and on-line where matches have been broadcast live on Facebook.
KFL allows non kashmiris to play and every team has had 3 non Kashmiri players on their roster.
This year the first semi final was played between the 1st place Gulmarg Leopards and the 4th place Zabarwan Hawks in which Gulmarg edged past
Zabarwan in the last minutes of the game, being behind for entire match except for the last two minutes when they scored 2 goals to win 2-1.The other semi final was won by Sonmarg Stallions over Wular Warriors 2-1 over a hard fought game of football.
Kashmir has always had love for football and the talent to go with it, with representation at the international level even in the 1980s and recently a few players from Kashmir represented India at the international level, there are players also playing in the ISL and very recently a few players joining the Elite Spanish league.
KFL was started as a medium of connectivity for folks away from home who now call UAE their home. Some have been here for over 2 decades, others have just moved here. It has managed to bring together people of all ages to play and to watch football, and when we say all ages, it is meant literally. KFL has people who are over 50 years of age and their youngest player is just 15.
For some folks and particularly for those who have been here for long, it brings a sense of serenity that has football and Kashmiri culture embedded in it and relieves them of their longing for their home albeit only for a few hours a week, and for those who have been here not too long it keeps them from missing home too much. In a place where things are very fast paced, work, family, home, travel and the like, it can take a toll on people physically and emotionally and KFL helps soothe those feelings to some extent.
KFL is not just about football, it is about brotherhood, it is about love, it is about reminiscing home, it is about nostalgia, and a lot more.
So come along this Thursday evening and be part of this sporting extravaganza, come and support your home teams, support kashmir, support football and above all support love and brotherhood and don’t worry there will be FOOD.