Kashmir is the Indian state where people possess a myriad talent. Like in any other field Kashmiri people also excel in sports. Sports mostly used to be a recreational & leisure activity for the Kashmiris, however with the changing times sports has become a lucrative career opportunity. The youth has also started to pursue sports professionally as a career option. Especially after success of IPL & Cricket being their favorite sport a lot of Kashmiris have pursued Cricket & achieved landmarks. Considering their love for sports Indian Army also conducts various sports activities for the youth in the region through welfare initiatives such as operation Sadhbhavana, thereby providing them with the basic infrastructure & initial push required. The lack of sports facilities in the state has been negated with the Army’s initiative to fund the budding sportspersons & distributing sports equipment, thereby engaging them effectively & keeping them away from the clutches of radicalization. Many international and national level players coming from Kashmir are a proof of the success of the initiatives of state administration & army.
The popular sports in Kashmir include cricket, football along with sports like golf, winter sports, water sports and adventure sports. Football the most popular sport in Jammu & Kashmir was introduced by Tyndale Biscoe School in the year 1891-92. Till now Kashmir has produced nineteen international football players. Abdul Majeed Kakroo took the game to another level. As a striker he became the first player from Kashmir to Captain Indian team. He went on to play for two of India’s greatest football clubs, Mohan Bagan and East Bengal. Muheet Shabir, a footballer from Srinagar has been bought by Kerala Blasters Football club. The young goalkeeper started out of Jammu & Kashmir football academy and is one of its finest products. Afshan Ashiq is Captain and goalkeeper of Jammu & Kashmir women’s football team. Her picture as an angry Kashmiri girl pelting stones at the Jammu & Kashmir police got her into national media spotlight. Her achievement in the sport is a testimony that sports take the youth away from radicalization and anti-national activities. The transformation of Afshan Ashiq is a true inspiration for the youth of Kashmir. Moreover, her story clearly highlights that how the extremists & separatists misguide the youth of Kashmir & destroy their future.
Cricket is another very popular in Kashmir as a leisure time sport of youngsters in village playgrounds and up to the professional level of Jammu & Kashmir state cricket team. Jasia Akhtar is the first women from Kashmir to be selected for the India’s women national cricket team. Parvez Rasool Zargar is an all-rounder who became the Captain of Jammu & Kashmir team and a regular member of India A. Rasool was the first cricketer from Jammu & Kashmir to have played in IPL. Abdul Samad, Umran Malik & Rasikh Salaam have been regular players & famous names in IPL.
Apart from these vast opportunities in other sports like Basketball, adventure sports, ice sports etc lie in wait to be explored. Kashmir with its varied and rich geographical specialities provide a great scope for adventure sports like skiing, ice skating, ice hockey, paragliding and mountaineering. With current pace & advancements in infrastructure Kashmir is soon going to produce many world class players in all fields in coming times. With proper attention of authorities & administration the state has come a long way & is decently placed with sports infrastructure and institutes for sporting activities. It has nineteen stadiums, twenty-three training centers, three indoor sports complexes and forty-three Government maintained playing fields. Srinagar also has two Golf courses. Institutions such as Jawahar Institute of mountaineering and winter sports provides mountaineering, skiing and adventure courses for people from all across the country.
There are over forty official registered sports associations in the region such as the Jammu & Kashmir cricket association and the Jammu & Kashmir football association. Other associations under the Sports Council include Jammu & Kashmir Yoga Association, Jammu & Kashmir Cycling Association and the Jammu & Kashmir Billiard and Snooker Association. These associations are responsible for conduct of the respective sport meets, identify and select talent in the state & prepare it for the national level. Also budding sportsmen get an opportunity to fine tune their talents and make career & achieve glory through sports. With more & more people choosing sports over pelting stones & picking guns, the day is not far when the Kashmir produces the best sports talent in the world & truly become an Abode for sports.