“Sports For All” Make It A Reality

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Ashfaq Wani
Sports education in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir is underrated as state’s education models place greater emphasis on formal education rather than on co-curricular activities especially the genre of sports. Until recently, very few sports enthusiasts of JK had opted for sports as their first career option, thus getting out of their pigeonholes.

If India is to become a sports superpower, “sports for all” should be a reality for everyone to participate in sports and special care should go to rural areas where there is a lack of basic facilities and fewer certified trainers to train the youth.

Until the problems at the grass-root level is addressed, creating a sporting culture in the country, especially in Jammu and Kashmir remains a distant dream.

We have witnessed young people compete and move ahead of others in various sporting events and bring medals and honor to JK. However, lack of proper infrastructure, training, and equipment put halt to the dreams of hundreds of athletes who want to perform and outshine others in the field. But because of the lack of facilities and platform, their skill gets rust and their talent gets faded away.

JK sports organizations especially JK Sports Council and Department of Youth Services and Sports have been instrumental in organizing various sporting events. They have tried to uplift the sports culture at the district and interim levels, however, they have not yet found the pace to advance sporting tasks and make sports a mainstream career option alongside medical and engineering careers.

The major grievance of the sports youth of JK is the overall athletic infrastructure. By infrastructure, this means not only the field of play and special training facility or equipment but also the unavailability of the trained and certified coaches and instructors who can groom the skills of the youth.

However, besides promoting Sports at the grass-root level, various sports organizations/associations are also getting watered down due to corruption charges and aggressive political interference. Thus, playing havoc and ruining the career of the athletes.

Talking to Mr. Khalid Meraj, the executive member of the J&K Taekwondo Association, “Sports in JK is getting faded away due to government’s negligence, it’s very unfortunate to say that sporting facilities are being occupied by the forces. Jhelum Indoor stadium, Bla is under the occupation of the Indian army for more than two years and the sports enthusiasts are laid to bed rest. The professional players could not train and compete in national games because of the lack of training facilities. Thus ruining their careers,” He said.

Hakeem Rameez, one of the badminton national players of JK said “authorities are providing huge funds to JK sports but they don’t realize that most of the training facilities are either occupied by the army or have been converted to COVID centers. Sports is not merely a career option or a recreational activity but it’s the means to stay healthy and boost the immune system but unfortunately, sporting facilities are being shut down”

Ist Khelo India 2020 at Gulmarg

However, the stereotype is slowly breaking, which is reflected in the increased participation of the youth in various sporting events in the state, national, and international levels, despite all the odds.

“Over the years, a lot has been happening on the ground. Indeed, there is some improvement visible, but we need to look at the grassroots level to tap the talent. Since 2015, I have been covering sports, however, I feel a lot needs to be done in order to do justice with talented athletes. In Kashmir itself, there is no dearth of talent. Unfortunately, a lot has gone waste so far. We need to plug in loopholes to make a better tomorrow for the aspiring sportspersons,” Tahir Ibn Manzoor, a sports journalist who works as an editor for sportzwiki.com , said.

Lately, the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, G.C Murmu described the sporting infrastructure of JK as one of the best in the country. He called for policy reforms to be made in the management of sports infrastructure in the UT. He gave priority to the development of sports infrastructure at the grassroots level in UT of Jammu and Kashmir. “Highlight success stories and all the positives in the sports arena of J&K to engage youth with sports-related activities”, he said.

Stressing about promoting water sports in UT, Lieutenant Governor Jammu and Kashmir observed that there is a distinct advantage in terms of vast water resources and mountain ranges. He stressed the need for corporate action to promote the development of water and adventure sports in Jammu and Kashmir. He directed that the DPR be prepared in this regard.

The Lieutenant Governor commended the sports activities and infrastructure development programs implemented by the Jammu & K Sports Council between 2018-19 and 2019-20. He praised the efforts of all stakeholders to successfully host the Winter Sports Festival in UT earlier this year, which also received praise from Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju. He congratulated the Jammu and Kashmir players for their excellent performance at the national and international level despite various difficulties.

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