Lonestar Kashmir Football Club (LSKFC) selected its final 30 players for the upcoming second Division I-League, likely to be held from 16th March at Delhi, Srinagar, and Pune.
The players were selected on different parameters during the final phase of selection trials conducted by LSKFC at TRC Ground Srinagar.
The trials were conducted under the supervision of Clebson Duarte from Brazil, who was recently assigned as Head Coach of Lonestar by the management.
Almost 42 shortlisted probables went through final trial sessions out of which 30 players were selected to represent Jammu and Kashmir in second Division I-League.
Moreover, Lonestar Kashmir FC is placed in group A along with Delhi United, Real Kashmir FC, Delhi Dynamos FC, Hindustan FC and FC Pune City.
Clebson Duarte, who selected players as per team requirements, told Rising Kashmir that trials went good and each probable gave his best to get selected.
“The players who got selected have to work hard every single day to polish their skills and techniques further and apply same on ground,” he said.
He added that the selected players will go through rigorous training besides theory sessions to give tough competition to professional teams in upcoming I-League.
“We have to start from the basics to enrich players with basic skills and techniques as it is an important aspect of the game. While practicing, many players do commit mistakes but I don’t thrust any kind of pressure on them. I let them free to perform and overcome their mistakes to improve their game,” he adds.
He says that Kashmir has immense potential but the need of the hour is to invest in football. “Government should come forward to invest in the sports arena to avail best possible opportunities and platforms to the players,” he said.
Moreover, the management has also inducted International footballer, Alexender in Lonestar.
Alexender, who came all the way from France, told Rising Kashmir that he is overwhelmed to get associated with Lonestar.
“I am highly excited to play for Lonestar and it is a new journey and new experience. It is good and motivating sign that Lonestar is providing an opportunity to every player irrespective of their (players) nationality to prove their mettle and seize their berth in the team,” he expressed.
He further said that youth of Kashmir are much talented and passionate about football but they need sound infrastructure and platform.
“I witnessed many young and potential players during trials and even some got selected. It is good for the team and for the players as a whole. If these players outperform then surely a new road will open for them,” he said.
Moreover, the management will also likely induct two more foreign players likely from Ghana and Nigeria respectively.
General Manager of LSKFC, Naseemul Gani said that with the indictment of international players and coach, the team will gain new exposure and experience.
“It will definitely act as a catalyst to boost the confidence of players that will improve their performance as well.”
One of the enthusiastic players from Jammu, Karan Raina who attended final phase of trials said that from past two years he is associated with Lonestar.
“Lonestar has been like a family to me. It was my dream to play in I-League and Lonestar provided me that opportunity.”
He further said that football has altogether changed now and is on right track.
“What we had learned at the age of 23 or 24, now the kids are learning the same skills and techniques at a very young age which is a good sign,” he adds.
Another footballer who attended trials, Ali who plays at ‘centre-back position’ said, “It is a privilege to be the part of Lonestar and it will definitely lead us to play at higher levels as well.”
Moreover, during the final phase of trials President Jammu and Kashmir Football Association (JKFA), Zameer Ahmad Thakur, District Football Association (DFA) President Srinagar, Fayaz Ahmad Sofi, Managing Director of LSKFC Fahd Khan and General Manager of LSKFC, Naseemul Gani were present during the trials.
Meanwhile, DFA President, Fayaz Ahmad Sofi told Rising Kashmir that Lonestar played a pivotal role in setting the foundation of football in J&K.
“Lonestar gave a new way and hope to aspiring footballers to play at all India level besides inspiring youth from far-flung areas,” he said.
Managing Director, Fahd Khan hailed JKFA and J&K State Sports Council (JKSSC) for their undeterred support, “JKFA and JKSSC has always been supportive. The teams have been brought up and supported by JKFA at all the stages,” he said.
The second division of I-League is set to be played out in two phases, as decided by All India Football Federation (AIFF) league committee.
The league will have a preliminary and a final phase round. In the preliminary stage, 18 teams will be divided into three groups where each team will play home and away fixtures.
Moreover, the whole event was organized by Lonestar Kashmir Football Club under the aegis of JKFA. The event is sponsored by Zaffron water drinks while as Rising Kashmir is its media partner.