“Sports teaches you character, it teaches you to play by rules, to know what it feels like to win and lose, it teaches you about life”
‘Kashmir’ when I think of this word, the first thing which strikes my mind is the scenic beauty, snow clad mountains, silent valleys, pristine lakes, dense forests, picturesque views, rightly known as the “Heaven on Earth”. God has bestowed Kashmir with large no of resources that have a deep message for peace lovers. Kashmir gained popularity since the beginning of the human civilization. Centuries after centuries the glory of Kashmir’s beauty reached every corner of the world. Not only the resources or the beauty but the vibrant people of Kashmir add charm to its everlasting beauty. Kashmir has always been the centre of attraction for sports lovers because it offers endless avenues for winter sports and games. It has great potential to attract a large no of tourists throughout the world. Winters are Kashmir is very unique. The whole valley is covered with a thick layer of snow. All tourist places in Kashmir look much prettier with fresh snowfall. The imposing mountain peaks in the backdrop and the frozen rivers add to its beauty. Kashmir is an ideal destination which can be developed into a Winter Sports Hub because of its terrain and climatic conditions.
For those sports enthusiasts who love snow covered mountains and vis Kashmir in winter, there is a great need to open new sports hubs throughout the valley and introduce as many winters games as possible. Gulmarg is one such place which gained recognition as a Winter Sports Hub. There are other places like Pahalgam and Sonamarg which also require a small push from the government to convert these places into Winter Games and Sports Hub. Construction of Zojila tunnel is one such step taken towards this, which will make Sonamarg available throughout to the sports enthusiasts during winters.
Winter Olympic Games is one of the Major international multi-sport event practiced in snow and ice. Winter Olympics are being conducted every four years wherein sports athletes from India participate in these events and win laurels but India still lags behind in creating such infrastructure so that these international events may be carried out in Kashmir in future. These sports includes Bobsleigh, Curling, Ice Hockey, Skiing etc.
When the talent from Kashmir become the Indian Flag bearers in an international arena such as Winter Olympics, it becomes an identity attribute for Kashmiri Youth, one such example is the budding Kashmiri Alpine Skier Arif Khan, who hails from North Kashmir. He booked the winter games ticket in an olympic qualifier alpine skiing event in Dubai. He has qualified for Beijing Winter Olympics to be held in Feb-Mar 2022. He has earlier represented the country in many international events include World Championship.
For our Country which is seventh largest in geographical area, second largest in population and home to the great Himalayas, these regions have immense potential to be developed into Winter Sports Hub. Although this state does not have well equipped and developed indoor and outdoor facilities or stadiums of international repute to host World cups, Asian games or Olympics, etc, but one can find this place gifted with nature’s own creativity, architecture and best infrastructure rendering this place best for winter sports. The main hurdle in developing Jammu & Kashmir into winter sports hub are prevalent internal security situation and COVID restrictions. However the situation has improved and many sports enthusiast are attracted towards Kashmir during winters for winter sports and games which is evident with the heavy influx of tourists this year.
As winter marks its arrival, Govt agencies have been on the job to give impetus to the various winter sports and games by organizing events in Gulmarg and other places of Kashmir. Every year a Mega cultural and sports events are being organized, world famous ski destination Gulmarg will play host to five day ‘National Winter Games’ under ‘Khelo India Program’. These games are slated to begin on 07 March 2022.
Sports tourism is indeed an important and potent sector of tourism industry. Sports tourism is employed as the combination of sports and tourism to boost the economy of a region. These events are likely to provide a fillip to the tourism in the valley and support the Kashmiri people whose livelihood has been impacted adversely due to COVID pandemic. These initiatives by the Govt will result in the economic development, creation of job Opportunities and holistic development of region.