Interview|“J&K on its way to become powerhouse of sports in the country"

Though the COVID-19 pandemic put a temporary break on the sports infrastructural development in J&K, the massive development and overhaul of sports infrastructure has resumed with more pace and focus after relaxation in COVID-19 related lockdown.

Advisor to Lieutenant Governor J&K, Farooq Khan who handles sports departments apart from some other departments in Lieutenant Governor Administration in an interview with Greater Kashmir correspondent Abid Khan said that in year 2020, J&K was set to witness massive change in sports development and sports activities, but the COVID-19 pandemic halted it to some extent. However, with the relaxation in SOPs, sports activities have already started at Inter-School level across J&K as well as infrastructure development work. Here are the excerpts:

Post COVID-19 Sports Activities Resumption

“Like rest of the world, we had to put complete stop on all development work and activities during COVID-19. There are some relaxations now with clear guidelines, SOPs to be followed. Within those relaxations DYSS has restarted its activities. The infrastructure work had already restarted from last month.”

“During COVID-19 we can’t expect to have any major activities so soon. We are re-planning our activities while infrastructure work is already going on a massive scale. In our policy we are not merely focusing on activities like Cricket, Football but are now giving importance to popular activities like Volleyball, Kho-Kho, Kabaddi, Water Sports and Winter Sports as well which in the past were ignored.”

Massive Development, Top Class Facilities in Indoor & Outdoor Games

Farooq Khan said that J&K is set to get top class facilities in both Indoor and Outdoor sports categories which is a gift from Centre to the people of J&K.

“A massive development of sports infrastructure started from last year in J&K. It will be a groundbreaking change in the sports arena of J&K. A top notch International level Water Sports Centre equipped with international standard equipment is almost ready at Nehru Park Srinagar while as we are also looking for place in Jammu to set a similar centre. Recently Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju E-inaugurated multi-sports facility sports excellence centre at Hira Nagar dedicated to former Union Minister late Arun Jaitley. That centre is coming outside the allocated Rs 200 Crore fund under PMDP scheme for sports structure revamp. It will be first of its kind sports facility in Country which was dream of late Arun Jaitley,” he said.

Quality Not Quantity A Focus

Advisor said that J&K Administration focuses on quality and not quantity and for that purpose they are about to give J&K youth quality sports facilities and training.

“What used to be the precedence is that infrastructure was focused in only twin cities of Srinagar and Jammu. We are changing that as infrastructure is coming up in entire J&K. Every district would be equipped with top level Indoor Stadium. Eight are already functional while as 12 would be ready by the end of the year. Same is with Outdoor stadiums which are coming in every District and even at block levels. Aim is to make complete overhaul of sports structure in J&K and give our sportspersons quality facility that will help them to explore their talent,” he said.

Ready For Hosting National, International Events

Farooq Khan who has served as Administrator Lakshadweep Union Territory previously said that with the coming up of stadiums in both indoor and outdoor categories, J&K would be ready for hosting any major activity in future.

 “With such vast change and development of sports infrastructure, burden on centrally located stadiums would be relieved. In future we can host any big event whether National or International with activities going on at multiple places at the same time. This all infrastructure is being built to give budding sportspersons a quality space to train and also we have idea to give them quality training in those places. If all these schemes are run and implemented exactly as planned, I am sure J&K would emerge as powerhouse of sports in entire Country wherein top level, Olympic level players would be produced,” Farooq Khan further said.

Focus On To Produce Future Olympians

Advisor said that administration is focused on to plan for future and prepare our youth for big events like Asian Games and Olympics.

“It has been seen that J&K hasn’t produced too many Asian Games and Olympics level athletes. That will change now as we are focused on that by targeting those disciplines in which we have potential to produce Olympic level athletes. During last Khelo India Winter Games, Union Sports Minister announced centre of excellence for Winter Games to be set up in Gulmarg. That was announced keeping in view potential and environment of J&K has got in such sports discipline. Similarly we will set up more such facilities in targeted sports disciplines in order to produce future Olympians. We have got potential in disciplines like shooting, archery, boxing, badminton, gymnastics, water sports. Only in water sports every year we bag multiple medals. Once our all facilities would be ready they will be able to produce results at top level,” he added.

Will Need Coaches in Large Numbers

Farooq Khan said that so many top class facilities are coming up in all over J&K in both Indoor and Outdoor sports disciplines that J&K would need lot of qualified coaches for training the young talented players.

“As Indoor and Outdoor stadiums are coming up in all the districts of J&K we will require coaches to impart training to youth in those facilities. Each Indoor facility would be equipped with at least five qualified coaches in different sports disciplines. Same would happen for Outdoor stadiums in every District of J&K. We will be in need of so many qualified coaches that as per our early estimates we will fall short of requirement in J&K. This is massive thing happening for our youth and they will get top level coaching,” Advisor said.

J&K Government Plans to Run Stadiums on PPP Mode

Farooq Khan said that his administration is well aware about the condition of stadiums as they are not well maintained and to solve that that they are looking for solution.

“We are well aware about conditions of our stadiums, sports facilities that have suffered without proper maintenance. We are making plans for that well in advance. Before stadiums would be opened for general public we will equip all these facilities with proper manpower. Even we are planning to run all these facilities on Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) basis. That way these facilities would be equipped well and maintained in proper way,” he said.

Sports Council to get Body Soon

About the proper set up of Sports Council wherein sportspersons and administrators are involved in the decisions, Advisor said that that decision has been taken and Sports Council body would be framed soon.

“In the last General body Meeting it was decided to keep new Sports Council body short in order to focus on development. Involvement of outstanding sportspersons and administrators is must but we can’t accommodate everyone”.

Sportspersons to get Respect they Deserve

Khan said that he is well aware about the top level outstanding sportsperson feeling discouraged in J&K due to treatment given to them.

“I am well aware about the fact that our top, elite level sportspersons feel discouraged with the treatment they have been given. Our focus is to treat them well and give them respect that they deserve for serving J&K and Country. We have written to all Departments to give us list of employees, employed on the basis of outstanding sportsperson quota. We don’t want these sportspersons to do clerical jobs but to contribute in the development of sports in J&K. we will bring them into sports departments,” he said.

No Sports Council Employee can be Part of Associations

Advisor warned Sports Council and DYSS employees of strict action for being officials, members of various Sports Associations and Federations.

“The policy is clear cut that no Government Employee can be member or official of any Sports body without No Objection Certificate. We don’t permit Sports Council or DYSS employee’s to be part of any sports body. If there is anyone we will take action against those,” he said.

Coaches Should do only Coaching

Farooq Khan agreed that in Sports Council coaches have been turned into Officers and mangers as Sports Council in past lacked clear cut policy in that regard.

“There used to be no policy in place. There was no such term as Head Coach, Chief Coach or any other term. Due to that our coaches in Sports Council have been turned into Officers and Mangers giving a complete slip to their original role of imparting training. We are thinking to change that. Our aim is that coach will only give coaching while as for managerial positions we will bring in qualified persons to handle management,” he said.