The Kashmir water sports department headed by the international Kayaking and canoeing athlete Bilquis Mir had worked round the clock with government of Jammu Kashmir to introduce rowing competition in Kashmir and today with support of sports council of India and Jammu Kashmir government this national championship is held here.
Bilquis Mir, Director Water sports said, “This is a prestigious championship for the Jammu and Kashmir, It is the first National rowing championship to be held here. This will boost the water sports in the Valley. There are 23 states participating with 600 athletes. In our Dal Lake, people have come from across the country. The federation after seeing the arrangements has said that they want to arrange international events like these here as well. It’s a proud moment for us. We are using the best equipment. There are many award-winning athletes participating. We are blessed with water sports; we want to bring Kashmir on the world map of water sports. Dal lake has become a hub of water sports. Jammu and Kashmir will host International events in future.”
The Government of India is keen on making the Union Territory a water sports hub of India. Srinagar’s Water Sports Center is equipped with world class infrastructure for kayaking, canoeing, and rowing. Around 550 athletes from 23 states of India are competing in the championship. 50 rowing coaches have come from across India to help these athletes in the tournament. The National Rowing Championship will provide a unique opportunity for young sportspersons from all over the country to display sporting excellence and share the camaraderie and sportsmanship.
The Kashmir Valley’s water sports department has been provided with the best infrastructure and equipment for the athletes. The government has paid special attention to water sports to help grow the sports culture across the Union territory. As Kashmir is gifted with natural water resources, the sports authorities are saying that Kashmir could be the next destination for National and International water sporting events in future.
President Rowing Federation of India Raj Laxmi Singh said, “It’s not an easy task to host National rowing championships, it involves a lot of equipment and logistics. We hope this will give a boost to Kashmir as the new rowing destination. Kashmir Invokes a lot of curiosity and a lot of us have not come here.”
The government is pushing not only water sports but all sports activities in the Union Territory. Earlier, one lakh players from across the country used to get the opportunity to play in a year in Jammu and Kashmir. Last year the number increased to 17 lakh and this year 35 lakh players are expected to participate in different disciplines of sports across the UT. To ensure equal opportunity, 50% participation of girls is being ensured in the talent development program.
Olympian and Arjun Award and Padma Shri winning rower Bajrang Lal said, “It’s a big opportunity for the people of Kashmir Valley so that Srinagar produces some national and international level athletes, that’s why the Government decided to hold this National level tournament. We are seeing a lot of participation for this tournament from across. The local team of JK has also shown exemplary talent and have reached the finals. JK has lots of water resources and they need to be utilised by local talent and reach international levels.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also very keen about the sport development of Jammu Kashmir and had already announced 200 crore special package for Jammu Kashmir to boost the sports activities in UT. Initiatives like Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) and Khelo India have given wings to the young generation in Jammu Kashmir It has given the perfect opportunity to the players to target Olympic medals.