Sports has been a vehicle for a long time for building bilateral relations, engaging with misguided and vulnerable youth, countering extremism, deepening diplomacy and nurturing resilient societies around the world. Sports is used by international bodies including the United Nations to prevent extremism and bolster community resilience. India is no exception. Jammu and Kashmir is using sports to engage with youth across the Union Territory under the Sports Policy 2022 for promoting universal wellness and fitness from the grassroots to the international level and sponsoring local athletes.
The central government’s Rs 200 crore under the Prime Minister’s Development Package will be used for up-gradation of sports infrastructure in the state. The Pencak Silat Association of J&K is conducting a coaching camp in Srinagarto shortlist a 40 member Indian team for the World Pencak Silat championship in Malaysia. Just last week, it held a Anantnag district Pencak Silat Championship that drew 260 male and female participants from all age groups.
19 J&K powerlifters will participate in Germany and Australia, five in the National Equipped Power Lifting Championship in Hyderabad. Martial arts is a big hit and Judo is attracting a large number of youth and four participated in the World Deaf Judo Championship in France. J&K Boxing team participated in the Youth National Boxing Championship in Chennai. J&K fencers participated in the 30th Junior National Fencing Championship held at Cuttak and the the boys’ Sabre team again won the gold; whereas men’s Epee team bagged bronze in Madhya Pradesh and two girls won silver and the bronze in addition to the girls’ team winning the gold.
The Khelo India Centre of Excellence for fencing, that has been set up in Jammu, provide all the modern equipment and gadgets necessary for J&K’s fencers. In Kulgam district the District Wushu Association is organizing championships. In J&K and Ladakh five cricket tournaments have been organized which may spot future talents like Umran Malik, Abdul Samad, Parvez Rasool, Ian Dev Singh and Shubham Khajuria.
Similarly, the Ladakh Sqay Association organised the inter-state National Sqay Championship in Ladakh in which over 150 players participated.
Gold too is very popular and at the Royal Springs Golf Course in Srinagar and the Lidder Valley Golf Course in Pahalgam, 88 golfers from the Addicts Golfing Society in south India and their local counterparts participated.
It is very heartening to see how the youth has embraced sports in J&K and Ladakh and shown immense passion to excel in their area of interests. It offers great promise for the region and finally bring people out of the dark times which had engulfed them for decade.