From Kashmir to Delhi, Zahid Shafi grooms football talent
Post by Javid Sofi on Sunday, October 23, 2022
From early childhood Zahid Shafi Mir, 28, cherished football. His dream was to make a name in this sport.
To turnhis dream into reality, he started training by FIFA certified coach, Juan Marcos Troia in Srinagar when he was in class 10th.
He would travel from his native place, Frestabal locality of Saffron town Pampore, to Srinagar where Marcos, an Argentine football coach, had set up an academy, International Sports Academy Trust (ISAT) for development of football in Kashmir.
“ During school days it was difficult for me to arrange money for paying bus fare,” Zahid recalled .
His talent of singing helped him to earn money to cover travel costs.He used to sing traditional songs in wedding ceremonies for earning money to invest on learning football.
Simultaneously, he was doing good in academics. After passing 12th class examinations in commerce stream, he joined Gandhi Memorial College Srinagar but dropped in 2nd year of graduation to focus entirely on football.
From 2014 to 2017 he played as striker in his team and in 2016 he led 5 player Indian team to Norway for SSG( Small Side Games).
During the tour the team played 7 street football matches with different countries including Mexico, Netherlands and Denmark.“We lost maximum matches but it was great learning experience for us,” Zahid recalled.
Zahid had acquired coaching license from AIFF (All Indian Football Federation) under category ‘D’. Simultaneously, he was training young boys to hone their skills in football at his home town.
Later, he founded Etihaad Football Academy,the first football academy in Pulwama where around 150 boys are being coached these days.
“The motive of setting up the academy was to create a platform for young boys where they get training close to their homes, thus saving their time and money,” he said.
Some of the boys trained by him have been selected in reputed football clubs across the country.He said, “football is an addiction which has the potential to divert students from social evils like drug abuse.”
By the end of 2017, Zahid switched from playing football to become a full time coach after acquiring ‘C’ license from AIFF.Later, he was hired by State Football Academy Srinagar as youth coach where he led I- League team to Kolkata.
“We qualified for Kolkata tour after defeating Real Kashmir, Lone Star and Jammu Football Club,” he said adding the team locked horns with Kerala , Goa and Delhi.
Thereafter, he was appointed by Real Kashmir FC as head coach for U 15, next he was promoted as head coach for U 18 and then head coach ‘I’- league reserve.
His performance with local teams brought him into limelight and he was approached by Sudeva Delhi Football Club, an accredited academy under AIFF, as head coach for U 18 team.For last three months he has been coaching at Sudeva.
“ It is wonderful experience for me to work with boys coming from different parts of the country with different sociocultural backgrounds representing a single team,” he said.
“Here boys are groomed from age 8 for football.Sudeva has a residential set up and each working day two training sessions, one in morning and other in the evening, are conducted for the players,” he said.
Speaking about the Kashmir youth, he said young boys in Kashmir have great talent but lack proper grooming.
“What we lack is grooming the talent.In one season a team will play around 60 matches in Delhi but, here in Kashmir you play 8 matches a season because football comes to a standstill during winter season,” Zahid said.
The young coach aims to acquire ‘A’ licence to coach Indian Super League (ISL) football teams in future.