Bandipora: A one-kilometre traffic jam at 9 in the evening in Bandipora was a rare sight for locals on Wednesday. A football match was underway at the Sher-i-Kashmir sports stadium here, which attracted everyone, as many said that it was the first of its kind in Kashmir.
Surrounded by people and darkness, two teams from Srinagar and Sopore were face to face on the ground, lit up by floodlights. Every kick sent the crowd into ecstasy. They roared for both the teams. Cellphones with flashlights on shone like a thousand fireflies in the stands. Spectators were beaming the match live on social media.
“Thirty-thousand people witnessed the match. It was unexpected,” Ubair Sofi, a BTech student and one of the organisers of the tournament, told Kashmir Reader.
Three young students, all in their twenties, came together to organise this tournament, named the ‘First Late Sofi Ghulam Mohmmad Memorial Football Tournament’. Inspired by sports events being held in the night, football enthusiasts Ubair Sofi, Mir Wajid and Azhar Ali thought of doing the same in Bandipora, where the stadium had installed lights.
“Initially it was impossible to get permission from the administration. They simply refused to allow us to organise night football. But on Wednesday, after much persuasion, we were allowed to go ahead,” Sofi said.
“For the success of the event we bought extra lights to illuminate the stadium, from our own pocket money”, Sofi said.
For Mir Wajid, an MCom student in Hyderabad, “It was a dream come true. I felt like on top of the world while watching this dream unfolding into reality in front of my eyes, and in my hometown.”
In the second semi-final match, Real Kashmir FC and Mohammadan Sporting Sopore had scored one goal each when there was five minutes to go. Then a player from Srinagar was injured and the crowd went out of control.
The commotion disheartened many youngsters, some of whom gave vent to their anger on social media by calling it “shame on ourselves.”
The organisers had to call off the match and reschedule it. However, the young organisers are not disillusioned. “To all those haters who tried to sabotage this event, I want to say that it really takes guts to organise such an event. We have sacrificed our days and nights for its sake, so that people can get real entertainment in their hometown. There are a few who want to mess up our effort, but it will only make us stronger,” said Mir Wajid. His friend Azhar Ali, a first-year college student, seconded him.