Local Rugby players suffer as authorities deny playing equipment

Despite Govt approval a month back, no equipment received so far, says coach

Srinagar, Publish Date: Jan 10 2019 11:30PM | Updated Date: Jan 10 2019 11:30PM
Local Rugby players suffer as authorities deny playing equipmentRepresentational pic

Amid winter chill, as a group of young Rugby players practice hard at a ground here, lack of playing equipment is proving to be a hurdle for these sports enthusiasts. Even as the game of Rugby gains popularity in a state dominated by Cricket and Football, with more than 7000 students involved in the game, their coach says authorities are not providing the playing equipment.

Speaking with the Greater Kashmir, Rugby player and coach Irtiqa Ayoub said sports council authorities were not providing her team with 8 kinds of playing equipment approved by the governor’s administration.   

“I used to be a part of the J&K Rugby Association but I left it due to differences with the heads of the association. Being an independent registered coach, I am being denied playing equipment despite having received approval from Governor’s administration,” says Ayoub.

As per government order dated 07/12/2018 (a copy of which is with the Greater Kashmir), Ayoub’s team has been allocated playing equipment by Governor’s advisor K Vijay Kumar. As per the order, equipment and sports apparels which have been allocated to the team includes 100 uniforms, 50 Rugby balls, 200 cones, 200 pointers, 100 shoes, 5 coach uniforms, 100 socks. However, as per Ayoub despite a month having passed since the order was sent by Advisor Kumar’s Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to Secretary State Sports Council, her team is yet to receive any equipment.  

“It is quite unfortunate that we are being made run around to get our deserving equipments. We are practicing hard in this winter chill to bring laurels to the state but basic facilities are missing,” said Ayoub.  Rugby has of late caught attention of youth across the state, especially the Valley. Such is the liking for the game that more than 130 schools and 30 colleges who have added this sport to the list of extracurricular activities. “Dozens of international players which also includes girls have been produced by the state. But we are badly in need of equipment and dedicated Rugby grounds,” said Zahid, a young player. The sport of Rugby has also caught the attention of young children who regularly attend training camps organised by association and the sports council. 

Youngsters admitted that basic infrastructure for this sport in the Valley needs a fillip. Most of the players said that they keenly follow Rugby on TV adding that their love for Rugby is due to the ‘mental and physical fitness’ involved in this sport. 

“Rugby does not consume so much of time and moreover its rules are crystal clear,” said Danish, a Rugby enthusiast. He said apart from a good body structure and stamina, good facilities are a must for Rugby. "I am looking forward to be selected for the school nationals but for that we badly need playing equipment and knowledge about several laws and sub-laws involved in the game," he said. 

When contacted, secretary J&K State Sports Council, Dr Naseem Javaid Choudhary did not respond to calls from this reporter. However, secretary, Youth Services and Sports, Sarmad Hafeez, said all efforts including the recently set-up dedicated Rugby ground have been made to provide a platform to players. Hafeez said the players who have been allocated equipment will be provided as and when it is available. “But Rugby as a sport needs minimum equipment and players should not stop practicing. Kashmir is among few places which has a dedicated Rugby ground. I will look into the issue of playing equipment raised by the players,” Hafeez said. 

According to officials, Rugby is played in 14 districts in the state, however lack of playing equipments and permanent play grounds in various parts of the state to conduct major tournaments is proving to be a damp squib. As part of ‘train the trainer’ campaign, regular camps are also held for coaches to hone their skills in ‘level coaching,’ said an official of Youth Services and Sports department.

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