In conversation with Syed Asma, owner Kanwal Tigers and CEO JKCPL Farooq Amin, claims that in one year’s time Kashmir will have its own world class cricketing infrastructure.
K L: How did Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Premier League (JKCPL) happen?
FA: JKCPL was my dream for past three years. I had an idea of creating something which would benefit our youth, their future and would motivate them to take up sports as their profession. I think our youth has talent but they are not taking up sports as their profession may be because their parents are not allowing them. Parents here have a notion that sports are nothing but wastage of time. JKCPL is an attempt to change that notion.
Besides, I love sports, especially Cricket. I have been playing cricket since school. Six years back I noticed that none of our players is playing at international level and the same year I met Parvez [Rasool] in 2007. I saw him practicing and realized he is immensely talented. After seeing him, I organized a talent hunt where 2000 boys participated.
We shortlisted around 50 guys and made them part of our ‘Kanwal Sports Club’ team. We played in different states across India. I tried to facilitate them with everything I could! I spent a lot of money on them and when I saw their performances, I realized a need for a proper platform which would help these boys to excel.
Parvez earlier was playing for a local club in Anantnag and then I took him along in my club. He is like a younger brother. I believe there is a lot of talent in the Valley and if it is polished in a proper way they will go a long way. We have a good percentage of youth who are uneducated but highly talented in sports. I want to prove their worth to our society.
KL: Why did you choose Cricket when the most popular game in Valley is football?
FA: It is just the beginning. I chose Cricket because it is most popular game in India. I know football is the common man’s game in J&K, but to motivate sponsors, franchises and corporate heads in J&K, I started with Cricket.
Besides, I am thankful to all the corporate houses of Kashmir who participated. They understood my plan and helped me to make it such a big event.
KL: You said this is a step to motivate youngsters to take up cricket as their profession. Your highest bid went upto Rs 15,000 for the ‘Kashmir’s current star’, Parvez Rasool. Do you think the amount is enough to motivate youth to take up cricket as their career?
FA: I know Rs 15,000 is nothing especially for young and talented boys like them. This amount is kept as a cap because we had instructions from Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA) not to involve much money in the beginning. They instructed us that JKCPL should not end up a financial institution but should encourage talent.
But I think these boys will be benefitted on many grounds. They are getting employments in the franchise companies. Besides, they are getting good prize money for their performance. It would start with Rs 10,000. In the next season we are keeping bidding open till Rs 2 lakh. Actually, it is just a start and we were not getting clearances. So, to get clearances we had to abide by some set rules otherwise, all corporate houses were ready to pay more. Next year, God willing, it would be bigger and better.
I promise there are a few surprises which would come on the inaugural of the tournament.
KL: On what basis is the bidding money decided?
FA: JKCA told us not to involve more money but still we have invested about Rs 1 crore in the project.
KL: In the beginning JKCA did not seem comfortable with JKCPL, why did they react that way?
FA: Actually, they had confusions about our plan but once I went up to Dr Farooq Abdullah and explained him what our plan and project is, he got convinced and offered his unconditional support to us. We at JKCPL are thankful to him.
KL: Why did JKCA call JKCPL an unauthorized regime?
FA: Because they thought JKCPL is hijacking JKCA. They were of an opinion that we are making a parallel agency to JKCA but once I made them understand that we are here to assist them the problem was sorted. They understood that the league is going to help them identify new talent. I made it clear that they will always remain the main association and we will work under the umbrella of their set rules and regulations. Financially we will work independently but will have to follow their set rules.
See, once the locals will play with Ranji players, they will get lot of exposure and it will in turn help JKCA to get a better lot for Ranji trophy in the coming years.
KL: Do you believe that beginning of JKCL will help in breaking the monopoly of JKCL?
FA: They still have their work to do but yes we will ease their job. It is they who always have to take a lead and we will follow. We have promised them that if they support us in the similar way as they are doing now we together will take J&K cricket a long way. JKCPL alone cannot do anything until JKCL supports us because at the end the players can play in Ranji tournament through JKCL only.
KL: You had said this will help to develop world class infra structure for the sport. Are you planning to invest in the infrastructure as well?
FA: Yes exactly; We in J&K do not have any turfs where our youngsters would play and polish their talent. They have to play against teams which have one of the best infrastructures in the country. Till now I used to take the players of my team to other states where they would practice and play but now we will be trying our level best to improve the infrastructure in the state only. In next one year we will try to come up with our own stadium with world class facilities. It is just the beginning; we will hopefully try to bring a difference.