For the “honor and glory” of their homeland, Kashmiris working in the United Arab Emirates are showing some true sportsman’s spirit. Cutting across individual, political and religious ideologies, the diaspora has started a cricketing event, the Kashmir Super League (KSL), whereby players from the Valley heat up the playfields in Dubai. Presently Season-II of the KSL is underway in the luxury city and in its first season, eight teams had participated while Safa Kadal Stars had emerged as the champions. This time 14 teams are in the fray. The players include a variety ranging from an 18-year-old skipper to a 51-year-old pacer.
Interestingly, while the majority of players are Muslims, one of them, Amandeep Singh Mehta is a Sikh from Srinagar. Rahul Kaul, a Kashmiri Pandit, also plays for the KSL. As per the organisers, many more non-Muslims look ahead to join in.
The matches are played on Thursdays and Fridays, the weekend days in the Arab world, when the players working across the UAE join each other in the port City, known for its sky-scrappers like the Burj Al-Khalifa. This year, internationally-known Indian skipper Parvez Rasool and his counterpart from the UAE Khurram Khan jointly inaugurated the event amid much fanfare before the excited crowds.
Titled For Honor, For Glory, the KSL essentially aims to promote Kashmir. The organisers give a Kashmiri touch to almost everything linked with the event.
The names of the teams are typical reminders of Kashmir. While Nowhatta Rebels reminds you of the name of the locality in volatile old City, Khanqah Hamdans takes inspiration from Shah-e-Hamdan, the revered 14th-century saint whose iconic shrine stands magnificently tall on the banks of river Jhelum. The other teams include Dachiham Hanguls and Lal Chowk Leopards.
During breaks, apart from olive oil-rich variety typical of the middle- east, Kashmiri specialties like noon chai or salt tea are also served.
Though matches are held at internationally known stadiums, the awards are in the form of trophies which are actually handmade in Kashmir. Woodcarving trophies given away. “We ensure getting special woodcarving trophies from Kashmir,” the organizers told InUth.
The KSL is also promoted through social media like the FaceBook page https://www.facebook.com/KashmirSuperLeague/ where videos and pictures are regularly updated.
From players to organizers, everyone in KSL is excited. “We aspire to project Kashmir in its real essence to the world. This is our humble effort, the beginning of a new chapter. No doubts we’re a pained nation, but if we make efforts, Insha Allah Kashmir will live till eternity.”