Real Kashmir coach dedicates British Empire Medal to people of Valley

Head coach David Robertson on Saturday dedicated the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List to the I-League club Real Kashmir FC (RKFC) he has been coaching since 2017.

The award is in recognition for the Scottish footballer-turned-coach’s services to the local community of Jammu and Kashmir during his tenure with the club.

“I would like to dedicate this award to so many people who have contributed in their own way. The Snow Leopard fans are certainly one of them; they are part of the family,” Robertson told after winning the award.

“Without their support no club can succeed. The support and warmth they have given not only to me, but the whole club, is incredible. They drive us all on; I hope very soon we can hear them roar at TRC (Turf Ground in Srinagar).”

From winning the Hero Second Division League in 2018 to becoming the first club from the Valley to compete in the I-league, Robertson has played a vital role in the growth of the team and has also helped take the game forward in the region.

RKFC also won the IFA Shield in 2020.

“The sacrifices of my wife and family have allowed me to pursue my dream. My parents are also a huge part of my successful career. My mother passed away six months ago, and my father passed away three weeks ago, just days after I was first notified of my award. I’m sad that they were not here to celebrate with me,” Robertson said.

The 52-year-old coach, who has played for clubs like Aberdeen, Rangers and Leeds United and donned the Scotland colours, said he now feels “attached” to the people of the Valley.

“I’m so proud to have been a part of an amazing story. When I arrived in Kashmir, I found it tough as it was a new experience but that changed as I was made to feel so welcome by everyone not only those involved at RKFC, but the general public. Now I feel so honoured and attached to the Kashmiri public.”