Kick Start To Success

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He’s had an early start and says there is no looking back. Majid Maqbool highlights the achievements of a successful Kashmiri football player, who has entered the big league.

He started his football career with the J&K Police, and has come a long way since. Born in Pulwama in 1984, Mehrajuddin Wadoo is now an integral part of the Indian national team; and plays for the Salgoacar S.C club.

Wadoo was motivated to choose football over cricket at an early age of eight by his father who has represented J&K in Santosh Trophy years ago. Wadoo joined Iqbal Sports Club in 1996, and was a member of the Under 21 team of J&K when he was noticed at the national level. He began his career as a striker and played as a striker for a long time. Now he plays as a midfielder in East Bengal and the Indian National team.

Wadoo was part of the Indian squad that won the Nehru cup in 2007, AFC Challenge Cup 2008 and Nehru Cup in 2009. After 1986, India for the first time this year qualified for the Asian football championship which was held at Doha, Qatar, and Wadoo was part of the Indian team.

After the Asia Cup campaign, Indian team coach Bob Houghton was removed by All India Football Federation. The new coach made sweeping changes in the squad, dropping 12 players that were part of the Asia Cup team. Mehraj was one of the dropped players. Meanwhile, Mehraj, who was part of East Bengal club from the last four years in I-league, joined the current I-league champions Salgoacar Sports Club, Goa along with another national level player of the state—Ishfaq Ahmad—for the current season. In between, Mehraj earned his place back in the national squad this year.

Wadoo credits his father for his achievements. “My father was a footballer too and he inspired me at an early age to become a footballer,” says Wadoo.  “As far as my achievements are concerned, 2011 has been a great year for me,” says Wadoo. “I have played the Asian Cup 2011 in Qatar with the top teams of the world. We won the Federation Cup with my team SALGAOCARS and recently won the SAFF cup in Delhi,” he says.

Wadoo was part of the Indian team that played friendly matches against Malyasia, and was also part of the recently winning campaign of SAAF cup which was held in Delhi. India defeated Afghanistan in the final.

Wadoo says there is a lot of football talent in Kashmir. “But the basic need is infrastructure to raise the standard of the game in Kashmir, so we should work on it a lot,” he says.

Wadoo has a message for the youngsters who want to excel in football. “Work hard and don’t cheat with your workout on the field, and always listen to your seniors and coaches,” he says.

Wadoo’s achievements in football in 2011—most prominently, earning a place back in the Indian team—makes makes him the sportsman of 2011 from J&K.

About Author

A journalist with seven years of working experience in Kashmir.

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