To stop youth from taking to social evils and to eternalize the name of the slain teenager Wamiq Farooq who was killed by security forces in Kashmir in 2010, four locals decided to organize a football tournament in his name which has become quite a success, JUNAID NABI BAZAZ reports.

One fine afternoon, Rizwan was sitting with his friends in a playground in Srinagar’s Rainawari area and discussing increasing number of social evils that have taken root in Kashmir society when his eyes were set on a group of teenagers who were puffing cigarettes, playing football and cricket amidst a din of dust which was blown into the air by their consistent hustling.

“The scene annoyed me a lot,” Rizwan recalls. “But I instantly thought of organizing a tournament which would assemble such youth and at least wean them away from such evils.” Rizwan discussed the idea with friends who readily agreed. One of his friends, Mehrajdin, intervened and recommended that the tournament be named after Wamiq, “I suggested to them that its name should be Wamiq Farooq Football Tournament since Wamiq laid down his life while playing football,” Mehraj says, “By doing so, Wamiq’s name would also be eternalized.”

Wamiq Farooq, 13, was killed on January 31, 2010 by Indian forces in old city’s Rajouri Kadal which sparked off widespread protest across Kashmir valley in which many more youth were killed and injured. Wamiq’s case is undergoing judicial proceedings at a district court in Srinagar. Rameez says before they decided to choose to name the football tournament after Wamiq, they first sought permission from his father who agreed. “We didn’t want to see any issues arise because of our decision to associate Wamiq’s name with the tournament,” Rameez says.

The knock-out tournament started on May 6, 2012. Twelve teams participated in it including Shalimar Sports, Khyber11, Mughals Sports and Young Mohammad. The organizers say that they dedicated their full efforts to make the tournament organic, disciplined and attractive. “Our aim was to make the disgruntled youth in Kashmir passionate towards sports and try to inject a feeling in their minds and hearts that sports can bring happiness and calm and that it was better to play than getting involved in social evils which bring only harm,” says Mehrajudin.

The finals of 1st Wamiq Farooq Football Tournament was played on May 26 with the organizers inviting senior football players of Kashmir valley including the international footballer, Mehrajudin Wadoo, to felicitate and encourage the players. The organizers received a meagre sum of Rs 500 from each participating team and what was further required to finance the tournament was contributed by the organisers from their own pockets. “The expenditure was more than Rs 13000 and we had collected a few thousand rupees from the teams. Since it was our idea to start the tournament, we decided to put our money to make it a success,” Rizwan said.

Zindshah Stadium Rainawari was chosen as the venue for the tournament and each match was played after 6 pm. Rizwan says that there were two reasons for holding matches in the evening. “Most of the players were students who could have not played during the day since they had to attend classes. Many players and organizers have their own business which would have suffered had we organised the matches during the days. Thus it was decided to hold matches in the evening,” says Mehrajudin.

The organizers of Wamiq Farooq Football Tournament are hopeful that the tournament has been able to wean away some people from the social evils since the response to the tournament has been tremendous. “Now we will try to organize more tournaments in other sports as well,” says Rizwan. Psychologists believe that sports could help them to a large extent from social evils. “Sports could act as a best therapy for such purposes. It could be more impactful than any drug if it works,” says Kashmir’s leading psychologist, Dr Arshid Hussain.


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