Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju on Saturday inaugurated first ever Khelo India Winter Games at Gulmarg amid huge applause from sport lovers.
The first ever Khelo India Winter Games are being held in Gulmarg from March 7 to 11 and will see participation of around 900 players and officials from different parts of country including hosts J&K. The five day event organised by Winter Games Association of J&K alongwith J&K State Sports Council with active support from Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports Government of India will have competitions of Skiing, Snowboarding, SnowShoeing, Ski Mountaineering, Skating, Ice Stock, Snow Rugby and Snowbaseball.
It is first time that Khelo Indian Games, which is initiative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been extended to Winter Games.
He termed it a historic occasion not only for J&K but for entire country.
“I want to tell you it is historic occasion as first time ever Khelo India Winter Games are being held in winter sports disciplines. It is great sightseeing athletes all over India with beautiful landscapes around them,” he said.
Rijiju announced that a Government would set up National Sports Excellence of Winter Sports in Gulmarg.
“Sports Ministry, J&K Government, Sports Authority of India, Sports Council are unanimously working on to take number initiatives for J&K. In that regard here I am announcing that Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports would be establishing a state of the art National Sports Excellence of Winter Sports Centre in Gulmarg,” he said.
“Another initiative that I am announcing is that a retired sportsperson or non-retired sports person who will form academy would be assisted by Government with a support of Rs five lakhs.”
“These academies will be supported by Government will be feeder centre for centre of excellence and other top academies,” he said.
He said the government would send large contingent for winter Olympics.
“We have got our winter sports destinations and would like to send big winter sports contingents in future from India for the Winter Olympics. We are aiming to make India major winter sports destinations,” he said.
Earlier Commissioner Secretary Youth Services and Sports J&K Sarmad Hafeez said J&K has got massive sports infrastructure push. “Apart from redevelopment two of mains stadium of J&K, we are building indoor stadiums in every district of J&K. Some have been completed and some will get completed shortly,” Sarmad said.
Winter Games Association of J&K President Abbas Wani during his vote of thanks thanked Government of India for holding such mega event in Gulmarg.
“We have hosted lot of events in Gulmarg and it may be first time that Union Sports Minister has inaugurated the event. It takes years to prepare for such event and we have done that in one month,” Wani said.
The inauguration ceremony was attended by Advisor to Lieutenant Governor, Farooq Khan; DG Sports Authority of India, Sandeep Pradhan; Principal, High Altitude Warfare School (HAWS), Major General Atul Kaushik; Secretary, Youth Services and Sports, Sarmad Hafeez; DG Youth Services and Sports, Dr Saleem ul Rehman; Deputy Commissioner, Baramulla, Dr Ghulam Nabi Itoo; Secretary, J&K Sports Council, Dr Naseem Javid Choudhary besides other senior officers of civil and police administration.