In its first year of inception, Lone Star Football Club, the state’s ‘first-ever’ professional football club, is set to participate in the I-League 2nd Division, both at senior as well as under-19 category.
While under-19 team starts its campaign in February at New Delhi, with the fixtures already declared by All India Football Federation (AIFF), the senior league would kick off sometime in late March, with matches likely to be held in Kashmir across multiple venues, adding to the delight of football fans in the state.
After its under-19 team finished runner-up in the recently concluded State Championship, the expectations of football fans in the state are high. All eyes are on the team as it kicks-off its inaugural campaign in New Delhi next month.
The team management has desired that Lone Star FC would be a club for the public, as it embarks on its first year in professional football. “The Club does not want to have an authoritarian way of working, essentially implying that suggestions are welcome from all circles. Being the first professional Club from Kashmir, it wants to win the hearts and minds of its people, and make them part of its success. It is as such open for all to come forward and contribute in whatever way possible to its growth and success,” said a spokesman of the club.
The Club has set high goals and wants to play in Premier Division I-League and popular Indian Super League in coming season.
After formation of first professional football club, the team would compete with India’s best at the country’s highest stage for the first time.
The Club is a joint initiative between the J&K Football Association and the Lone Star Group. Iftikhar Ahmad Lone, who is the chairman of Lone Star Group, a conglomerate with operations in multiple countries, wants that the football in the state reaches to pinnacle.
“Aim of forming this club was to promote and improve the standard of football in the state, ‘which has remained static since past many years. Despite several local boys playing for national and international clubs, the prospects of the football in the state are still not that good,” he said.
Jammu and Kashmir Football Association president Zameer A Thakur, who was recently appointed Treasurer of the AIFF, and Patron of JKFA Nazir A Khan have been working tirelessly over the last two decades and have been influential in convincing the AIFF to offer Kashmir its first ever Club in the I-League.
Executive President and Chairman Sports Board J&K Bank, Abdul Hamid Banday has supported the Club as Patron and S.A Hameed, Prof B A Shah, Mohammad Yousuf Dar are contributing as directors of the Club.
Banday has been at the forefront of various initiatives for the upliftment of football, including a new recruitment policy targeting talented footballers at J&K Bank, only possible as he was a renowned footballer himself. The Bank chairman Mushtaq Ahmed too, on his part, has been supportive of football initiatives to help in growth of the game. (KNS)