Bandipora July 18: Children aged five to six excitedly scurry to the middle of Bandipora's SK stadium, hoping to get the chance to kick a football as their elder brothers take a short break from a match.
The district in North Kashmir is known for its love for football and is often referred to as "Soccer hub" for the love its inhabitants hold for football.
As the snow melts and spring arrives, football begins in full swing in Bandipora. Here young people take to its formal and informal grounds to play during night as well.
Football grounds in Bandipora are very few, and most of them are not even properly built. Many are filled with dust, and few have proper turf. But that does not discourage anyone from playing.
The Bandipora's talent gained praise from football stars all across Kashmir after a young talent namely Tahir Hashmee got selected to play football in Brazil.
Tahir Hashmee told Rising Kashmir that he played in Brazil for six months and also gave trials in different clubs.
"I was 21 years old when I went to play there and learned a lot of new things that were lacking in my game," Tahir said.
The footballer is currently coaching nearly hundred young talents in the district among which thirty have participated in different events in Kashmir.
The passion for the game does not end here as recently a footballer from South Africa signed a contract with Bandipora based football club namely "Bandipora Titans FC" where he will be seen kicking football for six months.
Kodjo Joel, hailing from Gana Togo of South Africa told Rising Kashmir that he was offered a contract by the manager of Bandipora Titans football club a month back.
"The club’s manager approached me through my agent. Initially, I was confused if I should sign the contract with the club as I wasn’t sure regarding the football environment here. But all my doubts were put to rest after I saw the passion and craze related to the game among the young and budding talent here," he said.
Kodjo said he has been in Bandipora for the last one month and will be here for five more months. However, after seeing huge enthusiasm and passion towards football in the district the foreign footballer is keen to play more here in near future.
First time on 25 August 2017, Bandipora hosted the first night football match wherein over thousands of spectators witnessed the match. Since then scores of night matches have been played.
Ali Mohammad, manager of Bandipora based football club told Rising Kashmir that the enthusiasm and passion towards football has helped the youth here to a great extent to keep them away from the social scourge of drug addiction.
"You can see them playing football. Football has helped our youth to kick the ball to say no to drugs which has been a biggest evil in today's society," he added.