FIRST it was a cricket tournament in restive south Kashmir, now a football championship is being held in north Kashmir’s Bandipore in the memory of a militant commander.
Around 32 football teams from the Valley are participating in the first Jamal Football Championship — named after Abdul Khaliq alias Jamal Afghani, a top ‘Jihad Force’ commander in north Kashmir during the early 1990s, who was killed in 1993.
The inaugural match of the championship was held Tuesday at the Sher-e-Kashmir stadium with chief cleric of the town, Khursheed Ahmad, in attendance as the chief guest. The match attracted hundreds of football lovers and locals.
The tournament is being organised by a local club with support of the District Sports Association, Bandipore. The matches are being held at a stadium that was built by the Army and the Hindustan Construction Company (HCC).
“It is one of the biggest football tournaments being organised in north Kashmir’s Bandipore and reputed teams from entire Valley are participating,’’ said Asif Iqbal, one of the organisers.
“It is true this tournament had been named after Jamal sahib. He was himself a sports lover and good football player and that is the main reason why we named this tournament after him….Jamal Afghani’s original name was Abdul Khaliq Gania and people of Bandipore town still remember him for his kindness and sports talent,’’ he said, adding that a local club was also named after the militant commander.
Recently, a cricket tournament was held at south Kashmir’s Tral in the memory of Khalid Muzaffar Wani, brother of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani. Khalid was killed by the Army last year when he had gone to meet his brother in the forests of Pulwama, a militant stronghold. “Pro-freedom’’ songs were played during the tournament’s final match.