Sports: Baby Leagues show way in Kashmir Valley

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The jam stands with snow-clad trees in the background, neglected by the gargantuan Himalayan peaks have become identical with I-League this season in Kashmir.

Not too far away from the TRC Ground, where Real Kashmir play their football, the youths of Jammu and Kashmir have taken to the football fever, coming in hordes to feed their addiction.

Baby Leagues have become the latest rage in the state–so much so that neither have the kids been frightened by the cold nor have their parents dropped them from playing the beautiful game.

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As many as three Baby Leagues are continuing on in spite of the abundant snowfall in the region–Kashmir United Baby League (Srinagar), Ladakh Baby League (Leh) and Snow Etihad Baby League (Pulwama).

All India Football Federation (AIFF) Regional Development Officer says Bilal Ahmed Punjabi.“The Baby Leagues in Kashmir have really helped kids get more involved in the sport in recent times. For me, the bigger thing is that football helps the children stay involved in an activity that they like, and keeps them away from drugs and other social evils,”

Punjabi thinks that such leagues have stimulated the children of the state get a mode of physical exercise even during the winter months when people generally prefer to spend their time indoors.

“I remember one parent even thanked me because he believes that playing in the Baby League has helped his son build a healthy appetite. He also told me that he goes to bed on time since he was tired after the physical exertions, and wakes up early in the morning,” further said by Punjabi.

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With as many as 711 children engaging in the three Baby Leagues, and around 69 teams battling it out for the top honors, the wonderful game has captivated people in the Valley.

“It is just about children learning how to play football. We got a really good reception from the locals after they realized that this was the case”, said Punjabi.