Srinagar, Jan 13: Mohammed Asrar Rehbar and Basit Ahmed are the new heroes in Kashmir football. For the first time in the history of the state, the two footballers have got the opportunity to sign contracts with a Spanish third division club Deportiva Lenense.
Asrar and Basit were selected by the club in the ongoing January transfer window and will leave for the club, located in north of Spain, by the end of this month.
Initially, the initiative was taken by Kashmir’s Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), which has been trying to bring the youngsters to a normal life through football amidst the ongoing political unrest in the state for last couple of years.
In a bid to set a new dimension for the promising footballers in Kashmir, CRPF has tied-up with a Kolkata-based football Foundation organisation. Following tie-up with the Spanish third division club, the foundation has finally paved the way for these youngsters to play in Spain.
The 18-year old Asrar, speaking over phone from Srinagar on Thursday, said, “It is an amazing opportunity for me. I became emotional when I first got the news. I am truly grateful to Hilal Rasool, the licensed coach of Kashmir Lonestar FC, for having groomed me like a careful teacher in so many years.
"I am also grateful to Anit Ghosh, the former international Indian footballer, who was impressed with my performance in the selection trial, organised by CRPF.”
Asrar was called Christiano Ronaldo of Kashmir after he struck eight goals in six matches with Lonestar FC in the under-19 I-League.
Being a striker, his idol is Fernando Torres. Being overwhelmed Asrar added, “I have a dream that at least for once, I want to meet Torres. Then I want to request him to stand beside me for a photograph.”
Asrar’s father is a professional photographer in Srinagar. He initially discouraged Asrar, saying him not to think of becoming a professional footballer. But today Asrar’s father is probably the happiest man.