Football is a promising game in Kashmir, alongside cricket. Valley did not exist on the football map of the country, couple of decades ago; however, things have changed drastically, with valley producing world class football players and coaches.
Muzamil Mohammad is one of them; he has contributed much to the promotion of football. After coaching number of local clubs, he is currently working as a head coach in the State Football Academy. With acquiring coaching skills all the way from Brazil, he is busy inculcating skills in budding footballers.
In an exclusive conversation with Kashmir Vision’s correspondent, Ishtiyak Magray, Muzamil talks at length about the game and opportunities thereof.
KV: When did you start your journey in football?
MM: I am playing football since I was a child; I always had a passion for the game. Actually, my father and uncle used to play football, which inspired me to kick the football, marking the beginning of my journey.
KV: What is in football that you didn’t find in any other game?
MM: Football is the game full of passion. It gives me a sense of freedom and pleasure. It reinforces the feeling of being alive. By saying so, I am saying that other games do not, they might, but this is my personal opinion. Football gives me more happiness, freedom and imagination, which other games do not. I regret that I was not able to exhibit my talent at the higher level, given less opportunities that I got.
KV: When did you visit Brazil, and what led to the visit?
MM: It was in 2011, J&K Football Association introduced me to John Marcos trio of Brazil who was in the valley at that time. After watching my football skills, he was very much impressed and selected me for Brazil tour. I attend there a coach course at São Paulo and visited legendary clubs like Santos, Sao Paulo and Palmerias.
KV: What was the experience of the visit and how did it benefit you?
MM: As you know that Brazil is the Hub of Football game. It has been a great experience to visit top clubs and academies in Brazil. It was beneficial in many ways, things I learnt there are beyond my imaginations. The experience really broadened my vision about the game. Brazil has got well established model for the development of the game. In addition, I got to learn many techniques, such as Brazilian style of playing the game. I have been teaching those skills to the budding players here in valley.
KV: What is the difference between Brazil and Kashmir in terms of Football?
MM: Kashmir is stands low in comparison to Brazil. The facilities in Brazil are outstanding, even schools, public parks are provided with best facilities. But here in Kashmir, we lack such infrastructure; we do not have managed grounds, no ground which is having flood lights. In short, there is no comparison between Brazil and Kashmir—in terms of football.
KV: As a coach, you have been running a football academy, how has been the response so far?
MM: I have been running the football academy for a long time now, no doubt the response from youth has been exceptional, but at certain point of time parents do not support their ward which dampens the sprit.
KV: How do you see the present scenario of the game in Kashmir and what needs to be done for its promotion?
MM: Football is the game which is loved in Kashmir; we have produced lot of players like Majid Kakroo, Ishfaq, Mehraju Din Wadoo and many others. But due to poor infrastructure we are somehow behind in the game. No doubt we have improved a lot, but still we have to do lot. From the time when I started playing football to this day, I think lot has improved. The government should take necessary steps for further improve it at the gross root level. Coaches need to be trained; sports should be made a part of curriculum in schools. Government should come up with a comprehensive policy about the development of the game.
KV: Who do you see as an inspiration in your career?
MM: As a footballer, Ronaldinho has been my inspiration. But as a coach, it is Sajid Yousuf Dar, I want to become coach just like him, he has been my source of inspiration.
KV: Any message from your side to the budding and aspiring football players?
MM: Keep playing, studying, stay away from harmful things like drugs. Football is a passionate game, just love it, passionately. But at the same time, focus on your studies as well. No doubt, there is a career in the game; however, it takes time and rigorous hard work. The passion should not die, and if you are able to keep it alive, I think there is an opportunity for you.