What makes Sajid Dar and Hilal Rasool Parray different from most certified football coaches in India is that they come from a state — Jammu & Kashmir — not exactly known for football. Dar and Parray are the state’s only A licence coaches, the highest badge offered by the Asian Football Confederation which heads the sport in the continent.
Dar, 37, is also the only coach from Kashmir currently involved with a national team (U-19). Parray, 35, was a spotter at the All India Football Federation’s U-14 festival in Kalyani, West Bengal.
To get two fully qualified coaches from a state that doesn’t even have a team in the I-League first or second division is a big deal and India’s youth development project head, Col Toal, praised the duo for getting their badges. “Both are great lads and have very bright careers ahead,” said Toal.
Dar was a footballer and played in the J&K Santosh Trophy side. He is now in charge of the Kashmir University team. His father Mohammed Yousuf Dar played for Mohammedan Sporting and even represented India in the late 70s’. “There is a huge interest in football in our state but the problem is that there is no club in the top leagues. Hopefully we’ll see one in the top flight soon and all of us want to work hard for it,” Dar said.