Gulmarg, Feb 10: The 3rd edition of Khelo India National Winter Games began at Gulmarg with the message by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the participating players on Friday.
An official spokesman in a statement issued here said that Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports and I&B, Anurag Thakur and Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha declared the mega sports event open.
During the biggest winter sports tournament of the country, more than 1500 athletes from all over India would compete in 11 different winter-sports disciplines.
Thakur lauded the J&K government for developing sports facilities at grass root level and achieving unprecedented progress in the sports sector in a short span of time.
“What J&K has done in the world of sports in just three years is a matter of great pride. Indoor stadiums have been built in every district and every village has a playground. Where once there used to be incidents of stone pelting, today football, wushu and various sports are played. This is the picture of the new Jammu Kashmir,” he said.
The Union Minister assured full support and cooperation in developing the Center of Excellence for Winter Games in J&K.
“It is the vision of Prime Minister Nareandra Modi to create sporting infrastructure across India. The setting up of a National Centre of Excellence in Kashmir will support the athletes of J&K,” he said.
In his address, LG Sinha said, “PM Modi’s message and blessings to the players participating in 3rd Khelo India National Winter Games will encourage and inspire them.”
He said that the Khelo India Winter Games would celebrate and honour sporting excellence and witness the contests of skill and endurance of athletes.
“It is a great occasion to strive for the greatest victory, to uphold the spirit of sportsmanship, peace, equality, friendship and respect for the competitors. The spirit of oneness, Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat will make us stronger,” the LG said. “The entire country at the moment is united by the 3rd Winter Games dream. Each player participating will become the best ambassador of J&K. With the spirit of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (The World is One Family), this sporting spectacle will strengthen the bond of goodwill and unite all the players as one family.”
On behalf of the people of J&K, the LG welcomed the players, officials, and sports enthusiasts and invited all the guests, who have come from every corner of the country to enjoy J&K’s hospitality, to enjoy the games, and to enjoy the incredible sights and sounds of J&K.
He also highlighted the transformation in J&K’s sporting culture under the leadership of PM Modi.
“In the past few years, J&K has given many sporting heroes to the country. Continuous efforts of the J&K government in developing world-class sports infrastructure and facilities in every nook and corner of J&K, vibrant sports culture and sports budget at par with bigger states have added a new dimension to J&K’s sports sector,” the LG said. “Welfare of sportspersons is our priority. Special efforts are being made to ensure dignified life for our sportspersons and to encourage youth to choose sports as a career. The participation of more than 50 lakh youth in various sporting events last year is a testimony to this commitment.”
He said that with the help of the union sports ministry the government would work to establish the Center of Excellence for Winter Games.
“The location has already been identified. All efforts are being made to provide opportunities to sportspersons to excel in their career,” the LG said.
He and the union sports minister also e-launched 40 Khelo India Centres across J&K. The LG said that these centres had been dedicated to all the budding sportspersons of J&K.
Secretary, Youth Affairs and Sports J&K Sarmad Hafeez and Secretary, J&K Sports Council Nuzhat Gul shared the achievements of J&K in national and international sports arena.
Advisor to Lt Governor Rajeev Rai Bhatnagar, Chief Secretary Arun Kumar Mehta, and GOC 15 Corps Lt Gen Amardeep Singh Aujla also witnessed the inaugural ceremony.