Real Kashmir football club captain Loveday Enyinnaya has said that people of Kashmir are truthful and hospitable and one thing that unites them is the game of football.
The 28-year old experienced professional footballer from Nigeria said this in an interview with Greater Kashmir, two days after Real Kashmir played its first ever I-League home match.
Loveday Enyinnaya joined Real Kashmir FC on loan from Minerva Punjab in January this year and for its maiden I-League campaign he was made captain of the team by the coach David Robertson.
During his short stint with the club, Loveday has already turned into instant hit among the football fans of Kashmir and that was visible on Tuesday in the match against Churchill Brothers at TRC Ground Srinagar.
“I have been here since January and I have got a lot of love and respect from the people. There are many clubs based in various parts of India and each club has a different culture. I have played at various places and have been all over the country. In my opinion people of Kashmir are truthful, kind and hospitable. One thing that unites them is their love for the game of football and that was visible during our first home game on Tuesday,” Loveday said.
In the match against Churchill Brothers Goa, many spectators who thronged TRC Ground to watch the clash were seen chanting names of Real Kashmir players including Loveday.
“It was an awesome feeling and I was surprised to see so many fans chanting my name repeatedly. Even in my home I didn’t get so much of love. Before the debut home match, I though nobody knew me but now my perception has changed altogether. Kashmir people look well-educated, passionate football following fans. To get so much of love demands responsibility on my part and I would always like to give my best,” said Loveday.
About I-League coming to Kashmir and how different it is from rest of the India
“It was amazing atmosphere to see so many people turning up for the match. I knew people in Kashmir love football but I never expected so many fans to turn up during our home debut. It was around 10561 spectators and it is totally different from other parts of India in the league. Except few pockets where people come in large numbers, nowhere in India one can see so many fans turning up for I-league game,” he said.
Further, he said that I-League brings in European flavour and different challenge to the I-League teams that have been playing football for last many years.
“Real Kashmir qualifying for the I-League and subsequent hosting of I-League in Kashmir is good thing for the Indian football. It brings European flavour to the league that has mostly been played in hot weather areas of Country. The matches are now being played in picturesque TRC Turf field surrounded by snow clad mountains and big Chinar trees. The addition of full capacity crowd gives it a new dimension,” he said.
“It is now a challenge for outside teams to perform and visit our home ground and play in these conditions,” he said.
Asked about Real Kashmir as a upcoming team and what it means for Kashmir, he said, “Real Kashmir FC is not any other team. After playing for a number of teams, I have found Real Kashmir totally different. It is a family, a well-knit unit and it gives joy to the people of Kashmir. Unlike other clubs where preference is given to local players when it comes to certain facilities, Real Kashmir gives equal status to everyone and listens to everyone”.
He said that in his short stint in Kashmir while playing for Real Kashmir he noticed that Kashmir has got enough talent as far as football is concerned and I-League will give them exposure to hone their football skills.
“Talent is there and some of the players have already come up the ranks like in our own team. By playing in I-League, they will gain exposure and experience to help them hone their skills,” he further said.
He requested fans to keep visiting the ground on all match days to encourage them and boost their morale.
“I am thankful to all the fans that turned up in large numbers for our home debut. It really did help to shrug off the pre-match nervousness. It boosted our morale and we did a pretty good job against top team like Churchill. I request them to continue their support and keep coming in large numbers,” he said.