By P.T. Bopanna
Coorg-born Poonam Caveriappa Chattoo (in picture) has shown through her football initiative the way forward to restore normalcy in the troubled Kashmir Valley. From its inception, the Bengaluru-educated Poonam has been actively involved in the Real Kashmir Football Club which has been making waves.
Daughter of Kokkanda Caveriappa and Nirmal from Karnataka’s Kodagu (Coorg) district, Poonam is married to Sandeep Chattoo, a Kashmiri businessman.
Real Kashmir Football Club was started by Sandeep Chattoo and Shamim Mehraj as a way to keep young kids busy after the devastating Kashmir floods of 2014.
After the football Club’s exceptional performances across the country, recently the Club decided to step into women’s football. Poonam said: “My involvement is more active here. I am in-charge of managing the teams. This is our pilot project and we are a little cautious and would not like to overstep ourselves here. We have begun with the grassroots. So, it is under 14s and under 10s that we have decided to start with. The response that we have received is tremendous and heart-warming, and that is just from the city. Our next aim is to reach out to the districts.”
She recalled that her Club won the Hero I-League, 2nd division in Bangalore in 2017. We were in third place for the 2018-19, she added.
Poonam said she has been part of the Real Kashmir, from the inception and was part of all decision making. “We have a fantastic team of three coaches who are from Scotland. Our operations are not restricted to J&K. The ‘A’ team has a mix of boys from all over the country as well as a few international players. But our reserves, under 18, under 16 and under 14 boys are restricted to the state,” she added.
The Club has tied up with Delhi Public School as well as with Oxford United FC in the UK.
She said her husband Sandeep Chattoo and son Samarth Ganapathy Chattoo are involved in the project.
Hailing from Gonikoppal in Kodagu, she has a younger brother K.C Aiyappa, who is actively involved with the Clean Coorg Initiative.