Restore glory of Kashmir University's sports department

Physical education and sports is an integral part of general education. As much importance is attached to general education as to physical education and sports. In fact physical education and sports are two different segments of health sciences. Physical education is a fully fledged academic-cum-technical subject where aspirants could pursue Bachelors, Masters and even Ph.D degrees, while in sports the athletes are imparted coaching and polished to a particular sport like skiing, swimming, and kayaking etc. by Coaches. The Sports Coaches have specialization in their particular field. All these coaches are Diploma holders in Coaching fromNational Institute of Sports. Some Coaches also have additional degrees in Physical Education. They also act as Specialists for physical education programs.

            More impetus is now given to sports in developed countries. India too does not lag behind in this field. Physical education and sports is promoted in more than 300 universities and various Institutions of the country. To control sports in Indian Universities, the Association of Indian Universities, an apex body of Universities, has an exclusive wing for sports. The main job of this wing is to control University sports, allot inter-university tournaments, field Indian University teams in Nationals and award Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Trophy annually to the outstanding University that bags maximum number of medals. MAKA Trophy carries a cash award of about 60 lacs.

            Universities in India play a vital role in the promotion of sports. After schooling the athletes join colleges and come under direct focus and control of a University. Schools act as nurseries those give guidance to novices and teach them basics of sports at grass root level through their Physical education teachers but the Universities are considered the powerhouses of sports. They have the cream of athletes who participate in national and regional level inter-university tournaments. This is the stage where the athletes are judged for major national and international sporting events.

            Like other universities of the country Kashmir University too has a Directorate of Physical Education and Sports, operative since its inception. With the persuasion of Dr K.A. Tarzan, former Director, the Physical education wing came into being in the University just in 2008 that started teaching with M.P.Ed degree with a small faculty. Initially the retired teachers of Govt College of Physical Education, Ganderbal were engaged but later it appointed its own teaching faculty on full time and contractual basis.

            In order to gather resources Dr Tarzan had managed to get transferred the services of some staff from affiliated Colleges including Ms. Surjeet Kaur, who had done M.P.Ed and was working in a local College as Asstt PTI. To our dismay this promising lady was sidelined and never promoted to the promised post. Since her joining University services in 2002 she didn’t get a single promotion. Should she have not opted University services she might have been holding a gazetted post in her parent department this time. Not only was she, Mr. Harbinder Singh, Sr. Coach with NIS Diploma and M.P.Ed also ignored for any elevation. I fear the fate of other Jr. Coaches would be the same. After retirement of Dr Tarzan the department went into the hands of make shift non-technical academic professors who had no knowledge of Physical Education and Sports.

During the time of Dr. Tarzan the sports department was expanded manifolds and a number of posts were created like two Dy Directors, three Asstt Directors, Asstt Professors and Coaches. He fought for many long years to change the nomenclature of the department. Surprisingly for last one decade the post of Dr Tarzan is not filled up by University authorities due to unknown reasons leading to degradation of sports standard in the University. The three Asstt Directors, appointed about seven years back need to be promoted against available Dy Director posts so that the avenue for elevation of deserving in-service coaches is created.

            During Dr Tarzan’s tenure the Sports Department grew leaps and bounds. Appreciably a water sports center, equipped with scores of latest kayaks, canoes and imported paddles and a multi-gym were established. He persuaded the then M P Dr Farooq Abdullah to sanction crores of rupees for building the state-of-the-art Sports Hostel on the campus, and also  motivated the then R&B Minister to build a huge building for sports department which is now transferred to Tourism Management department. Alas! This Sports Hostel has never been used for the purpose it was built. Instead some other departments were shifted there. Dr Tarzan also struggled for retrieving the Billiards Table that was under possession of REC (Now NIT) for long. He also got donated a bus from an NRI to the sports department. The bus was later put in the university transport pool. The Kayaking center is in shambles now as no hanger for protecting the boats was built. The available Kayaking Coach post has never been filled up. We hope the present Vice-Chancellor Prof Talat Aziz saheb would look into the matter and help to bring back the glory of KU Sports Department.

            Not only general sports Dr Tarzan had great love for adventure sports. He knew that the adventure programs are job oriented and the university pass-outs could find jobs in tourism, police and education department etc. The KU sports department was considered one of the best departments in India those days. The University Grants Commission had allotted a Regional Adventure Sports Center to KU. Enough grants were provided for running different adventure programs. Besides, the Union Ministry of Sports was also providing millions of rupees for conducting adventure courses for the students. The University was annually holding four rafting courses, four skiing courses, some rock climbing courses and number of trekking expeditions for boys and girls with intake of 60 trainees in each program with least resources and manpower. Myself being qualified in many Adventure Sports and Aquatics was not getting enough breathing time round the year. Dr. Tarzan is a multifaceted personality. He was a great sportsman of his time, a great physical educationist, and a great organizer. I had developed very close understanding with him, who always was encouraging me and was forwarding my proposals to the higher authorities and get them personally approved.

            The adventure sports are job oriented and could be helpful to the students after completion of their academic programs. Appreciably the Secretary Higher Education stresses the need of running job oriented technical short courses in the universities and Colleges for the benefit of students. Myself being member on Board of Study and Tourism Management  of Central University I had submitted a detailed project report (DPR) some years back to the CUK for introducing Diploma Courses in some Adventure Sports that could create job avenues for the youth but unfortunately that DPR didn’t see the light. It is suggested that the KU Sports Department should start such diploma courses on the analogy of other Universities. The boats in Water Sports Center are damaged due to mismanagement of University authorities and need to be protected. The vacant post of Kayaking needs to be filled up forthwith as the University is situated amidst of two famous lakes and have tremendous potential for water sports. Notably the University has won scores of medals in All India Inter University Kayaking and Canoeing Championships and has remained Overall Champions twice. Today not even an inter-college kayaking championship is being held on the campus in the absence of a Kayaking Coach. It is learnt that due to internal bickering some people are trying to bifurcate the Physical education from Sports Deptt which is not a healthy step for the deptt and its staff. The Rafts University procured few years back need to be put in the waters for use

Credit goes to KU Sports department for exploring Gurez valley for adventure tourism. The Tourism Deptt started holding Gurez Festivals much later. The University also conducted successfully first-ever Adventure Mela at Drass and Mushko valleys. River rafting was first time introduced on river Drass by KU. Astonishingly the University had raised a Rafting team, which was only team in any IndianUniversity that used to take part in national and international rafting championships,. Mughal Road trekking in Pirpanjal range and Bandipura to Pahalgam wereregular feature of the University. Notably the KU pressed upon the AIU to recognize Kayaking, Canoeing and Baseball as competitive sports and later competitions of All India Inter-University levels were held in Kashmir University. Unfortunately today both these sports have no place in our lovedUniversity. Another combat game Judo was introduced in the University in mid 1990s, that sport too bagged one bronze medal in the Inter-Varsity Championship. A high branded full size judo mats were procured which no other institutions owned that time.

            The Directorate of Physical Education and Sports of KU has lost its glory and needs to be restored urgently. The University also needs to appoint a full time Director who could reshape the department and uplift the sports standard and also encourage the research work among physical education students.

            The University needs to approach UGC and Ministry of Sports for reviving the Regional Adventure Sports Center here. The University Sports Department perhaps considers skiing a recreational activity, unaware of the fact that it is an Olympic event and need to be promoted with high magnitude. Different championships at national and international levels are held including National Winter Games in this sport regularly. During my time as a Ski Instructor, besides training camps, Inter-College Ski championships were held regularly and even efforts were once madeto hold Inter-University Championship. It is appreciable that GDC, Tangmarg has procured ski equipment and is now training its students in association with Winter Games Association.

The author is former KU Adventure and Aquatics Coach and now Gen. Secretary-ATOAK. Contact him at Myusuf05@hotmail.com