How Corona virus is affecting Sports and Youth
File Pic: Aman Farooq/GK

How Corona virus is affecting Sports and Youth

Government needs to transcend cultural differences and bring youngsters together under one platform- Sports.

Like every other sector of the economy, sports is alsolikely to be adversely impacted in the short term. At International andNational level, there will be an impact on Broadcasting, Sponsorships, andMatch Ticketing which are the three main revenues for sports. Out of these,sponsorships and match day ticketing will be directly impacted. Broadcastingmay recoup some of the losses if games restart in empty stadiums.

Amateur outdoor sports are also likely to see a dip as longas social distancing norms are advised.

Meanwhile, Sports has been one of the key components foroutreach and re-engagement with the Kashmiri youth for governments. A reductionin sporting events will have an adverse impact. In the meantime, governmentneeds to transcend cultural differences and bring people together.

Sports is the only platform which is conflict neutral,religion neutral, reflects the idea of co-existence and diversity of all thetwo newly created Union Territories, J&K and Ladakh.

Absence of sports activity at ground zero in these two newlycreated Union Territories diminished the expectations amongst the youth withregard to sports who some years ago had started dreaming of their careers inthe field of Sports.

Youth across the two newly created Union Territoriesespecially in Kashmir region enthusiastically used to participate in sportsactivities in various sports disciplines in past, but from past more than ayear, the number of youth participation has decreased. As everyone is awarethat children below 18 age are much more prone to radicalised activities whichcan further the radicalised mindset of the Youth- Sporting activities at groundzero could help in countering such activities at the first.

It is only recorded on files and documents that large numberof youth at a fake estimate of 1, 20,000 are associated with the sports, butthe reality is something different that not more than 20,000 have beenbenefitted from last one and a half year with strong impetus of zero activitiesespecially in last nine months.

J&K State Sports Council actively engaged youth only inSeptember 2016 in multi disciplinary sports activities ranging from organizingcoaching camps in 18 districts of the state, followed by largest SportsCarnival- first of its kind through implementation of Khelo India Scheme atvillage and Block levels in 16 districts of the state. Youth have participatedin 88 blocks of the state at that time.

The enthusiasm and excitement that was created at that timeamongst youth mainly in the age group of under 17 & under 14 Boys and girlsis being understood as a medium of expression of youth energies of otherwiseanarchic young generation that has fallen a victim to long turbulent turmoil inthe valley.

But unfortunately from August 2018, J&K State SportsCouncil has failed to understand the concern of taking this youth SportsEngagement programme in continuity without break to sustain the effort forbringing a Paradigm intellectual shift in the targeted derailed youthgeneration.

The recent sports activities at Gulmarg raised questionsfrom several quarters due to corona virus threat. When advisory for hugegatherings was already issued, why the event was still held? Was it because ofpressure from influential event managers for sake of the money that was givento them by risking lives of people. Meanwhile, lot of young entrepreneurs alsoraised questions on awarding of contract without following due process oftendering. The Secretary Sports Council later came up with the statement onallegations.

It is apt to mention here that Sports Council neverattempted to plan Programmes that shall be mainly designed for youth populationwho don't have a right to vote. This perceptive part of population is notdirectly involved in political process but have had been used by anti socialand opportune elements to derail certain processes.

Failed events, spending huge amount of money crossing 30lakh rupees on events that eventually get failed and futile enquiry is ordered,release of money to blue eyed Sports associations, preferring collaborativeevents with private schools rather than government schools, utilizing funds onpersonal laptops, gadgets and other personal stuff, extra fuel bills forofficial vehicles- everything is being done that suits the persona of officialsat Sports Council, but the bigger question of Youth Engagement into Sportsremains the same.

There is a saying that If we could untie our wings and freeour soul of jealousy and hatred, we and everyone around us would fly up likedoves. Diplomacy in sports is important but should remain limited only totranscend cultural differences and bring people together, not to hurlinvectives within chairs no matter who is what! The contractual employees ofSports Council are without salaries from past more than 10 months without anygenuine reason. And these are those employees who are working hard day in andday out to keep the online/virtual things alive. More than 150 youngsters whowere trained at National Institute of Sports, Partials under Prime Ministersspecial package were engaged as community coaches who used to train youngstersat village levels. Their existence proved fruitful. They used to work on a meresalary of Rs 5000/month. Now from past more than one and a half year they findthemselves nowhere. Neither their salaries have been released since then northeir services are being utilized.

Despite assurances from former advisor to Governor VijayKumar, their case was taken up and processed in a file. After that no one knowsthe fate of that file when report was sought from council authorities on thatmatter. The present advisor to LG, Farooq Khan who holds the sports portfoliowas keen to solve the issue of more than 150 community coaches, but one couldact only when anything is being placed before. Neither their file nor anyreport is being produced before advisor for rehearsal of their grievances andutilization of their services for larger reach out of sports promotion.

Our activities should have had the intention to bring aboutchange in certain cases. Yelling fervour sometimes remains linked to victoriesor losses and will never benefit anyone at end.

Amid corona virus, sports in India including in our UnionTerritory is locked. Outdoor sports can't be an option. But Indoor sports canbe an option. Sports Council could have started with individual games likebadminton, table tennis and other individual games.

They could have warmed up their coaches for preparing ofonline videos which could train and help youngsters to stream in. Instead theycame up with videos showing champions practicing at home. One fails tounderstand that sportspersons and youngsters need proper guidance and trainingsthrough online by coaches.

Let us wish for sane conversations and be courteous first toown chairs and then to outsiders.

Sportspersons of J&K were not given the status theydeserved except in the year 2016 when some of the star players were givenemployment to influence budding sportspersons they had on their performance.But questioning on their employment is itself a big mark on the claims of'Making JK a Sports arena'.

I consider them as ambassadors of harmony and peace. Givingthem recognition and encouraging them will inspire their sportsmanship and theybrought laurels to the State.

Conversely, the constructive engagement in Sports and Sportsrelated activities with continued vigour and vibrancy is the need of the hour.Enquiry into financial corruption including tendering process of events,outcome of enquiries, and wrongly audited accounts, favouritism in financialaid to blue eyed Sports associations need to be enquired and corrupt officialsbehind the screen shall be brought to book.

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