Footbal in Kashmir

Real Kashmir Football Club players attend a training session as an armed security personnel keeps guard at Kalyani in Nadia district in West Bengal.

09-08-2019 REUTERS/Subrata Nag Choudhury

There was a magnificent night of jazz in Puerto Pollensa at the weekend when singer Carol Kidd celebrated her 74th birthday. Carol, who has a house in the port, sounded as strong and as lyrical as ever after spending most of a decade out of action through ill-health.

She was surrounded by friends and fans in the audience at Naciente, a fair number of whom had travelled from her native Glasgow for the occasion. Carol once shared a stage with Frank Sinatra, who described her as “the best-kept secret in British jazz.”

Performing, as always, in bare feet, she showed that age and illness have done nothing to reduce the astonishing vocal power that won her numerous international awards for jazz singing. She has released a new album, “Both Sides Now.” Among the Scottish visitors was Greg Clark, a documentary film maker, who has just been nominated for two Bafta awards for an amazing film about the adventures of former Scotland full-back David Robertson in taking up the daring challenge of managing the Real Kashmir football team and taking it successfully to I-1, the top Indian football league.

David was one of Alex Ferrguson’s young stars at Aberdeen, then went on to Rangers, where he won six championships, three Scottish Cup finals and three League Cups. He was coaching in Florida when the Kashmir job was advertised. His wife, Kym, was against him taking up the challenge, but finally came round when she realised how important it was for him. Their son, Mason, is now a goal-scorer in the Real Kashmir team.

Robertson exchanged a beautiful home and a comfortable life in Aberdeen for primitive living conditions and little money in Srinigar. The ground was still being completed when he won promotion for the side. There are guns on the streets and armed guards at their training sessions.

Kashmir, a battleground between India and Pakistan since partition over 70 years ago, is the most militarised place on earth. Shootings, strikes and states of emergency are an almost daily occurrence.

David is shown in the film shouting and swearing in an uncensored way in almost every sentence as he drives his players on. It is clear that he has found some fulfilment in one of the most dangerous places in the world.

Why does he do it? His wife says: “Football is like a mistress for him, and you just to have accept that.” David says he needed to prove to himself and to others that he was still a winner. The film has been a winner, too, as a second documentary is already in production by BBC Scotland.

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