A football academy in Jammu and Kashmir's Ganderbal, headed by Afaaq Rahim, a young physical education masters student, is motivating and teaching local youths to play the sport.
Youngsters say that they want to make their career in football and play at the academy twice a day in different categories - Under-13, Under-15 and Under-18.
Before the academy was established, the youth had to take a trip to the neighbouring district just to have a place to play. Now, they have their own space and are guided by Rahim.
"I started this academy as I believe that there is a lot of potential in the young people of Jammu and Kashmir. I initially wanted to start a football club but that was turning out to be quite expensive so I started an institute instead," Rahim told .
Sahil Bashir, a trainee at the academy expressed gratitude to their mentor for providing them with a place to play and giving them opportunities to explore the sport.
"Sir takes us to a lot of diff places to play. We don't get a lot of support from society as many people think that football will distract us from our studies. But sir has helped us out. I am extremely grateful to him for giving me this opportunity," Bashir said.
Another trainee, Gowhar Ahmad said that although people in the Valley think that football was a waste of time, it kept youths away from doing drugs and was keeping them active and fit.
"People here don't realise that this sport is such a good thing for the youth. Those who don't play football often do drugs and other bad things to keep themselves occupied. We are very grateful to have sir with us as he guides and gives us many opportunities," Ahmad said.
( With inputs from ANI )
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