Union Minister of State (MoS) for Youth Affairs and Sports, Kiren Rijiju, Sunday said that the government of India (GoI) was planning to expand the sports landscape of Jammu and Kashmir by providing "world-class sports facilities."
In an exclusive telephonic interview with Greater Kashmir, the union minister said, "We are mulling to create a world-class sports infrastructure in Jammu and Kashmir by roping in young sports personalities and giving them best possible platform at their doorsteps," he said.
"This will not only help us spot the best possible sports talent but will also give a new lease of life to the sports in Jammu and Kashmir," he said, adding that they will ensure Kashmiri youth's participation in the Olympic games. "We are planning to go for the sports talent camps so that Kashmiri boys too get Olympic medals," he said.
He said that the water sports sector was coming up in a big way across Jammu and Kashmir. "We will inaugurate water sports in Dale Lake in the summer. Water Sports has a great potential in Srinagar and Kashmir and we have had many potential and success stories in this area," he added.
Meanwhile, Rijiju said that the government intends to start district-level 'Khelo India Sports Centres' across the country.
"My aim is to bring India in top 10 by the 2028 Olympics, and to make it possible we have to create sports facilities at the ground level. Thus, we intend to start about 1,000 Khelo India Sports Centers across the country," Rijiju said. "We have around 700 districts in the country which means that we will have at least one centre per district, some districts will have more."
The Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) said that Jammu and Kashmir's two Khelo India Centers of Excellence — one each in Srinagar and Jammu — will bolster the sports activities in Jammu and Kashmir.
"The Centers for excellence will provide a platform for national and international experts who can train and identify the sports talent in Jammu and Kashmir," he said.
He said that Jammu and Kashmir has potential to produce future champions. "We are cooperating with the state and UT governments and working towards the progress of the sports," he said.
J&K Lieutenant Governor's Advisor, Farooq Khan, said that hosting Khelo India Winter Games, which are being organised by Jammu and Kashmir Sports Council at Gulmarg, was a proud moment for the government. "Gulmarg has all the potential and scope to become a winter sports hub and UT administration is committed to develop it as India's as well as World's one of the finest winter sports destinations."
The sports stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir have urged the Centre to expedite the development activities in the sports sector. They urged the union minister to announce an Ice Hockey Rink in Srinagar.
"We direly need one Ice Hockey Rink in Srinagar as we have enough potential to represent India at any international events," said Waseem Raja Khan, Chief Executive Officer, Ice Hockey Association Jammu and Kashmir. "Ice Hockey Association of India has been taking many steps to develop this game in Kashmir," he said.