In an unusual communiqué to the Centre, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, has written to the Home Ministry urging it to allow a Brazilian football coach, training youth in the Valley for over two years, to stay on.
Jaun Marcos Troia, 33, received a call from the CM's office on Thursday asking him for papers so that the government could facilitate his visa extension. Troia, who has been living in the Valley with his wife and three daughters since April 2007, has been asked to India by October 31.
In the letter to Home Minister, P Chidambaram, Abdullah said, "the coach was doing a great service to the youth of Kashmir", and extending his visa would help nurture the sporting talent in the state.
Supporting Troia's cause, the CM said the coach had weaned away at least 50 youth who were involved in disruptive activities.
"Our visa expired in November 2007 and we applied for an extension but there was no word since then. Two weeks back, we got a call saying we had to leave by October 31 as our visa had not been extended," said Troia.
Troia, in collaboration with the Jammu and Kashmir Football Association, has registered 1000 boys between 10-20 years old for training. Three of his pupils are even going abroad to hone their skills.
"We are beginning to get response from abroad and international collaborations are coming. The government has sponsored two boys who are going to Spain and one boy for Brazil," he said.
Before Kashmir, Marcos coached in Brazil and Argentina and had a spell in Delhi from 2002-07. "I come from a country where football is God and football is life for me. I think this is the place where I can make a difference," he said.