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Post Article 370, Kashmir getting ready for a sporting revolution

Updated September 16, 2020 16:06 IST
Players in action during a match between Real Kashmir FC and Churchill Brothers at the TRC Turf Ground in Srinagar (IANS)

With the government pumping in huge money into restarting projects which had been hanging fire for decades, the Kashmiri sportspersons are hopeful that the erstwhile state will soon witness the dawn of a new sporting era.

Yesterday, Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju laid foundation stones for various sports facilities in Ladakh, including a synthetic track and an astroturf for football.

The project at the Lehat Open stadium in Leh would cost around Rs 10.68 crore and is expected to be ready by the start of next year.

IndiaNarrative.com had last month highlighted how Article 370 was the real impediment towards the development of Kashmir region. The Valley youth, deprived of sports opportunities and infrastructure since the 1980s, understood that the government means business this time as it was proved when the first Khelo India Winter Games were organized in Gulmarg in March, earlier this year.

Indoor gymnasium halls, a National Excellence Centre of Winter Sports, jobs for local sports persons, the developments in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh over the past 11 months has given a new ray of hope to the locals, especially the youth.

Now Danish Manzoor, a taekwondo player from North Kashmir’s Baramulla district, is dreaming of participating in the Olympics one day.

“My only dream is to go to the Olympics. I know I don’t have enough national medals yet but step by step I want to reach the Olympics. I want everyone to recognize taekwondo and take it forward in the region. Jammu and Kashmir is no longer what it used to be five years ago. People are pursuing all kinds of sports here now,” he told news agency ANI in an interview, recently.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had in his address to the nation on August 8 last year mentioned how Jammu and Kashmir will witness a new dawn in every sphere of life after the abrogation of Article 370.

“The decision taken by the government will benefit the youth of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh and those who aspire to progress in the world of sports. New sports academies, new sports stadiums, training in scientific environments will help them to show their talent in the world,” Modi had mentioned in his speech.

There is no dearth of talent, of course. Just have a look at the story of Shah Huzaib from Charar-i-Sharief in Budgam who, after Huzaif Shah, is taking the internet by storm with his football trick shots.

IndiaNarrative.com had reported how the Indian paramilitary forces are also massively contributing to the cause by organizing events throughout the Valley – from a volleyball tournament in Gund Hanjik village in Budgam to the sports festival in Tangmarg – to keep their connect with the Kashmiri awaam intact and the morale of the youth high.

Now areas like Gurez are witnessing a sporting revolution with several football tournaments being organized by the local administration, a move which has generated a tremendous amount of interest amongst the locals.

The emergence of Real Kashmir Football Club, the first club from Kashmir to compete in any first division football league in the country, has also made the talent scouts go searching for budding players deep inside rural Kashmir.

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