Working For Change

Football is the second most popular game after cricket in Kashmir. Despite the lack of infrastructure, Hilal Rasool Parray, a father of three, has been quietly working to bring a change, SAIMA BHAT reports.

Hilal Rasool Parray sharing a joyous moment with budding footballers

Hilal Rasool Parray has become the first football coach from Kashmir who was selected by FIFA for its instructor’s course conducted in Bengaluru for six days. There were 18 participants including 12 coaches from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka, and six coaches from the India who were nominated by All India Football Federation (AIFF). All coaches are expected to promote football at grassroots level in South Asia and develop the game at par with European football.

Hilal is one of the two Kashmiri coaches who has got ‘A’ license from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). In India, there are only 47 ‘A’ license bearing coaches. He has the privilege of being a coach and selector of under-14 national football team. Earlier this year, he was also selected by AIFF for under-16 coaching camp, selection process and in its various developmental programs.

“I want to serve the football at grassroot level. I want to broaden the basic platform. Once we reach there, only then will the game reach new heights. To achieve this goal, I am training young boys to build a stronger base” says Hilal. Born in a middle class family, Hilal has been playing football since 1985 when he was just 10. Like many other kids, Hilal was interested in sports. His first cousin, Showkat Parray, who was playing football locally, taught him. Hilal wanted to become a lawyer but he learnt football without knowing that one day the game will become his profession.

“I started my career formally in 1996 when I was selected for J&K Bank team. Before that, I had already represented my school, Tyndale Biscoe School in Inter School Subroto Mukherji tournament,” he says. His association with J&K Bank proved crucial for his endearing interest in the game. He was offered scholarships and provided the required facilities. With time, he started earning and got a job with J&K Bank which induced him to take the game seriously, “I represented J&K Bank in all major national tournaments from 1996-2002 which include Santosh Trophy in 1999 and 2002, Federation Cup in 1997 and 1998, Durand Cup in 2001, Lt Governors’ Gold Cup in 2000 and 2001, and other national tournaments,” he says.

In 2002, Hilal and his friend Sajid Yusuf Dar felt that there was a dearth of football coaches in Kashmir, “We wanted to do something which could benefit young boys so that they could get a chance to play at higher levels. So we decided to learn more about the game,” says Hilal who then went to Sports Institute Patiala in 2003 for a diploma in football coaching.

After completing his diploma, he cleared different levels in AFC and finally obtained an ‘A’ license in 2011. When he came back, he joined J&K Bank team as a coach in 2004 till 2008. He has also worked with Mumbai Football Club, Iqbal Sports Football Club, Jammu Kashmir Football Association (JKFA) as in-charge Trainings & Coaching, AIFF Youth Teams [JLN Stadium Madgaon, Goa] and Youth Development (Academies and Youth Teams) in 2008 where he is currently working.
Hilal is coaching an academy of under-17 boys of J&K Bank and is associated with various developmental courses of the bank and JKFA. Born in 1975, Hilal is father of three sons but he has never forced them to play football, “They should play on their own,” he says.

Hilal credits his tailor father, Ghulam Rasool Parray, for his success. “It was my father’s shop that became my first school. I learnt a lot of things while dealing with customers.” But in his professional life, he gives credit to his coach, Abdul Majeed Kakroo who, he says, refined his skills.

For every learning process it is very important that a student should get a proper mentor. Hilal says Kashmir has been able to provide variety of nationally and internationally acclaimed footballers over the years but the state lags behind when it comes to the infrastructure and facilities. “Football has always been a passion for Kashmiris since the age of Tyndale Biscoe but we still lack infrastructure” he says adding, “This year, two goodwill matches were conducted by the government which cost them around 75 lakhs. The money could have been spent on developing infrastructure. We could have prepared at least two grounds from that amount.”

For promoting the football, Hilal is presently busy in organizing a festival where male and female players in the age group 6-12 and above will be trained. “This is the right age to hone the skills of players. Every kid should be given a chance to play football. It should be like ‘Catch them young and sharpen them at the right time.”


  1. this refers Working For Change
    We, are lacking in sports so on its basic amendments .when i was in school there was prohibition to play football or cricket as teachers used to say old saying “khelo kodogay bano gay khaarab, padho gai likho gai bano gay nawab” means”playing , enjoy will ruin you while studying and reading can make you something to salute” .comparing other states of india they give boost their young blood and motivate them to make iron in sports but in kashmir if are a sports lover you will be called “darbadar ” bad boy . Kashmir and its future generation who have new thinking are coming towards sports but every time they get disappointing when government ignore them put them in back stage .New initiative, over sports must be taken in hand to develop skills , proper monitoring of funds over the endorsed in sports is a desperate need .
    a foster need must be fulfilled in urban areas where there is scarcity of play grounds, whether its cricket or football or any other game government must not dump the funds and bring more coaches to develop favor of sports in Kashmir . i myself was a sports lover used to play cricket still i love the game but i know im in Kashmir my skill is no of use its straight in dustbin. coaches like Hilal Rasool Parray can only give you tips , shapes your skills but at-last its on government which is is deep slumber from decades .

  2. On the one hand, they say that they want to bring football or other sports in Kashmir for that matter on a par with internationals standards but on the other, they do not give a change to skilled people to develop or provide facilities for them. Nevertheless, it is good to know that at least one person is going places.

    Nice article author. You could become a sports journalist or whatever you call it.


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