Srinagar, Mar 17 (PTI) Kashmiri parents should bring their daughters to watch football matches so that they can get inspired to take up the sport, said manager of the CRPF men's and women's teams Prem Thapa on Friday.
The men's football teams from the valley have done well over the past decade and Thapa feels there is huge potential for women as well in the sport.
"In Kashmir, there is good structure for football. Parents should encourage their girls and accompany them to the football grounds so that they can get connected with the sport," Thapa told PTI.
Football clubs from the valley, such as Real Kashmir and Kashmir FC, have done well at the national level and Thapa said there should be a professional club for women as well.
"There should be a professional club for girls here so that they can play and participate in other parts of the country. Like there is a football academy for boys, there should be facilities and support from the government for girls also,” he added.
Manager and captain of the Manipur Police women's team, Oinam Bembem Devi, said while there was not much of a football culture in the valley, things can change if national-level events, like the All India Police Football Championships, are held here regularly.
"There is not much women's football culture in Kashmir but after this tournament (All India Police Football Championships), Kashmiri women will also come forward. The culture can change here if more such tournaments are held,” Devi said.
Devi said that local girls should come to watch women's matches in the ongoing championship.
"There are players who have played for the national team. They (local girls) can follow their footsteps to make their state and country proud,” she said.
Nisha, an upcoming CRPF player, said parents should encourage girls to take up the sport just like they do for boys.
"I belong to Haryana. Earlier, girls there were not allowed to venture out but at present a lot of girls are taking up sports. I think girls should be supported to come out from homes and play like boys," she added.
Deputy Superintendent of Police in Jammu and Kashmir Syed Sleet Shah said women should be given opportunities in all fields, including sport.
"They should be provided avenues in life so that they can come forward, put their best foot forward and be a member of the society. We see women in sports and it's always so inspiring. Once you are a part of a sports team, it builds confidence," Shah said.
Vice Chancellor of Kashmir University, Prof Neelofar Khan, said the varsity encouraged the female students to actively participate in sport.
"It's wonderful to see the teams have come from other parts of the country and they are playing. It's a great encouragement for our students.... it's a great moment,” she said. PTI MIJ AM AM AM