10 Oct 2020
Former state of Jammu and Kashmir, with three diverse regions be it – religion, culture, traditions, intellect and others were integrated on a single stage of sports by Waheed Ur Rehman Para. In the year 2016, Waheed Ur Rehman Para was appointed as the Secretary of the Jammu and Kashmir State Sports Council. Sports department in the erstwhile state was in a dilapidated state and its future was lurking in shambles. None of the political leaders, influencers were ready to take the responsibility of this post due to zero interest and also due to a conflict ridden area where encounters, curfews, lockdowns and stone pelting were a day to day affair.
Waheed Para played a significant role by encouraging the youth and boosted their morale, providing them with a winning zeal at numerous tournaments, championships and made the state enlist in the Sports Board at national as well as international levels. The entire credit of influencing the youth and diverting them from the conflict goes to him. He made young budding sportsmen as the real ambassadors of peace. It was under his aegis that Sports Council witnessed the first Rural Sports, at block level under Khelo India in which 22 districts, 217 blocks, 2170 coordinators, and 1,20,000 players participated in eight different sports disciplines between 2016-17.
Sports is an activity that involves physical conditioning and an acquired skill in which an individual or a team, competes against one another for leisure and recreation. Kashmir’s magnificent mountains, vast grasslands and scenic rivers offer a huge scope for a number of sports to include Cricket, Football, Volleyball and Hockey. The mountains are an abode to a combination of adventure sports to include mountaineering, hiking, snowboarding, skiing, fishing and river racing.
Mountaineers and hikers travel from all over the globe to Gulmarg, Sonamarg, Pahalgam, Bangus valley and the famous Amarnath shrine. Adrenaline seekers and snowboarders visit gulmarg in the months of December to scale the snow-clad mountains. Sonamarg provides the facility of a number of aero sports to include Para sailing, Para gliding and Hot air ballooning etc. Golf lovers are often seen in Srinagar and Gulmarg, River racing and river rafting is a norm that can be witnessed in the magnificent lakes and swift flowing rivers respectively. The route to Leh passes via beautiful Sonamarg valley and the Zojilla pass, a number of bike enthusiasts and off roaders are seen traveling on the very well-maintained national highway. If you have not crossed this route, it is strongly recommended that you must. It is one of a life time experience.
Out of all the sports, Cricket and Football hold the maximum popularity among the locals. Mehrajuddin Wadoo a resident of Srinagar, has represented the Indian National Football Team and plays in the Indian Super League. Jammu and Kashmir is a home to 19 international players till date. After the introduction to a lot of indoor stadiums and felicitations, the locals are coming on ground and proving their mettle through their hidden talents.
Sports in turn has played a pivotal role in diverting the youth from the conflict ridden area and thus providing them with the best exposure, opportunities and the silver lining for a better future. The government has introduced various awards to inspire and motivate not only the sportspersons, but also the coaches and local sports associations. Nearly 40 sports association officials have registered in the region under the sports council. At present after understanding the background of the erstwhile state and keeping the Kashmir conflict in view, the Governments initiative in the sports sector is solely focused on diverting the youth. The future of Kashmir far away from the conflict and related miscreant activities, the government ‘s initiative promises the Awaam with a peaceful and prosperous future.
The Indian army has played a key role by not only maintaining peace in the valley and spreading awareness among masses about COVID-19 pandemic but is also focussed in engaging the youth towards the right direction via number of sports activities. Indian Army is also involved in constructive engagement of young minds through fun games such as jute bag race, talent hunt, painting and drawing competitions in turn spreading happiness and positivity among the awaam thus strengthening the Awaam-Army connect.
Kashmir has seen a lot of changes, the place referred as paradise on Earth will promise you the feel of real Jannat. Post abrogation of 370 and 35A, a new wave of development and bon hominess has spread in the entire union territory. Terrorism and other unlawful activities have dropped down, youth and the Awaam have been provided with the best facilities. The sports sector has been deliberately focussed upon and the enthusiasm among the locals and their will to outshine the previous chapters of a left-out Kashmir are clearly evident by the enormous participation nowadays.
If you have not been to Kashmir and you are willing to take a break from your monotonous routine, it is strongly recommended that you pack your bags get your friends and plan a trip to Kashmir. An experience worth living waits for you in the Paradise on Earth