Srinagar: Gone are the days when sunset used to bring all sports activities to halt. Installation of hi-tech floodlights in stadiums has given new lease of life to sports in Jammu and Kashmir.
In 2019, TRC Turf Stadium Srinagar became first-ever outdoor sports facility in J&K where floodlights were installed.
Within four to five years, J&K Administration through J&K Sports Council has installed floodlight in around 41 stadiums, and playfields all over J&K including far flung areas like Kupwara, Bandipora, Reasi and Poonch.
And nine more facilities work of installing the high-end lights is in progress making the total to 50 facilities that would be equipped with floodlights.
With almost all the top stadiums and playfields equipped with night playing facility now, the night events, particularly in cricket and football, are becoming rage among the local youth.
The tournaments are being held on regular basis with scores of spectators turning up to enjoy the sports under lights.
The TRC turf has hosted some of the high-profile night football matches while as North Kashmir Khushaal Stadium Sopore takes festive look whenever night matches are being held.
Bandipora's SK Stadium is turning into hub of sports activities with night events being a regular affair now. The stadium fills to its full capacity during night events and same has been the case in Kupwara stadium.
In the heart of old city Srinagar, Gani Memorial Stadium Rajouri Kadal has already hosted multiple night events being organised by locals with the help of Sports Council.
The night events in Old City have become instant hit with other stadiums like Radapora and Anjum Ground Qamarwari also hosting night events. Same is the case with Chinkral Mohalla Stadium. People of the adjoining areas throng in large numbers to watch these events.
In Srinagar, TRC Turf Ground, Bakshi Stadium, Gani Memorial Stadium, Gindun Ground Rajbagh, Rada Pora Stadium, Chinkrall Mohalla Stadium, Lal Bazaar Stadium, Anjum play field Qamarwari, Synthetic Hockey Field Polo Ground, Rugby Field Polo Ground and Cricket field TRC Ground have all been equipped with flood lights or work is in progress.
In Pulwama, Sports Stadium Pulwama and Main Sports Stadium Tral have been equipped with the lights while as in SK Stadium, Playfield Naid Khai, Car Parking and approach road at Indoor Sports Hall Shadipora have got the lighting facility.
In Kulgam, Sports Stadium Kulgam, Sports Stadium Qaimoh have been equipped with lighting facility while as in District Sports Stadium at Gogo Rangreth and Sports Stadium Budgam are equipped with lighting facility.
In Baramulla, Sports Stadium and Sports Stadium Tulibal Sopore are getting equipped with floodlights while as in District Kupwara BHSS Kupwara has been equipped with the lighting facility for night events.
In District Shopian, Sports Stadium while as in District Anantnag, Play field at Seer Hamdan and Sports Stadium, Mehandi Kadal have got the night facility.
In District Ganderbal, Madri Meharban Stadium and play field Kangan have been equipped with the lighting facility.
In Jammu province around 22 facilities have been equipped or being equipped with lighting facility so that all round sports activity is possible.
In Jammu District, play field Hiranagar, Playing field Palma Akhnoor, Green field Gandhi Nagar, Sports Stadium R.S Pura, Playing field K K Hakku, M.A Stadium, Parade ground Jammu, Playing field Shashtri Nagar, Synthetic Hockey field K.K Hakku Jammu and Mini Stadium Parade have got the lighting facility for night sports activities.
In Kathua, Sports Stadium Kathua while as in District Rajouri, Sports stadium Rajouri, Playing field Nowshera, Playing field Kalakote, Playing field Lamberi, Sports Stadium Rajouri, Sports Stadium, Darhal Sports Stadium Manjakote and Sports Stadium, Peeri Rajouri have been equipped with the lighting facilities respectively.
In District Reasi, Sports Stadium Reasi and in District Poonch , Sports Stadium Poonch have been illuminated to make possible at night.
The availability of lighting facility in stadiums has instilled new life into the sports in J&K with both sportspersons and fans loving the new atmosphere.
"It was dream come true to see stadium been equipped with lighting facility. That encouraged us to host night events and that have been hit with large number of spectators turning up to enjoy their evenings," said Haroon of Rajouri Kadal who host events at Gani Memorial stadium in Old City.
Owner of the Downtown Heroes FC club Mushtaq Bashir hailed Sports Council for bringing sports to life by getting playfields, sport stadiums equipped with lighting.
"My team members regularly ask us to let them play under lights. They have been enjoying their time at Bakshi Stadium, TRC Ground and have also been playing under lights tournaments all over Kashmir.It is new thing as now sports activities keep buzzing till late hours," he said.
"Players as well as fans are loving it as they are able to enjoy their leisure evening hours now," he added.
‘New hope for youngsters’
Secretary Sports Council Nuzhat Gull said that initiative like installation of lights in stadiums has given new hope for J&K youth.
Secretary Sports Council said that currently more than 50 stadiums have got the lighting facility, covering all districts.
“Currently more than 50 stadiums that cover all the districts have been equipped with high mass lighting facility to make play possible all the time. These lights are turning out as huge attraction for the youngsters who now can enjoy their play after school and tuition hours,” Gull said.
She said that events under lights are attracting big turnout which gives events a festive look.
“In recent community level events we saw huge turnout of spectators and events under lights are becoming a new trend.Currently matches are going on in MA Stadium Jammu and Lal Bazar Srinagar which wasn’t possible before. These lights have brought new hope for our youngsters who now can enjoy 24x7 sports facility,” she said.
Secretary Sports Council further said that Lieutenant Governor J&K Manoj Sinha is keen on to engage more and more youngsters in sports.
“Under the leadership of LG J&K who is very keen on engaging more and more youth towards sports , we have been trying to start new initiative.
Sports is the medium to wean away our youth from the drug menace which has become a huge problem. To eradicate that sports play major role and these initiative are part of that process,” Secretary Sports Council added.