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PM promises to make J&K a winter sports hub

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Modi e-inaugurates Khelo India Winter Games; LG asks participating athletes to spread message of peace, unity, goodwill, & love; Union MoS Kiren Rijiju assures support of Sports ministry for developing J&K’s sports sector

Srinagar: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday inaugurated the second Khelo India Winter Games in Gulmarg and said that the event is a step towards making Jammu and Kashmir a hub of winter sports.

Athletes from 27 states and Union Territories are competing in the Games which will conclude on March 02.

“This is a step towards making India’s presence felt in the international winter games arena and also make Jammu and Kashmir a hub of winter sports,” he said in a virtual address.

“These games in Gulmarg show that Jammu and Kashmir is eager to reach new heights of peace and development. These games will strengthen the resolve for ‘Ek Bharat, Shreshth Bharat’.

“I am told the participation has doubled this year and it is a reflection of the inclination towards winter sports in the country,” he added.

The disciplines to be competed the games include alpine skiing, nordic ski, snowboarding, ski mountaineering, ice hockey, and ice skating among others.

“When you show your talent in Khelo India-Winter Games, remember that you are not just a part of a sport, but you are also the brand ambassador of a self-reliant India,” the PM said addressing the 1200 participants who have converged at the picturesque Gulmarg.

“The world evaluates India through what you do on the field,” he added.

The Games are being organised by the Union Sports ministry and the Winter Games Association of Jammu and Kashmir.

“The two Khelo India centres of excellence in Jammu and Srinagar and Khelo India centres in 20 districts are great facilities for the young players. Such centres are being opened all over the world,” the PM stated.

Speaking on the occasion, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha called upon the participating sportspersons to spread the message of peace, unity, goodwill, love and empowerment.

“Let us share this experience of unifying power of sports with the world,” remarked the LG.

“Gulmarg has been acknowledged as a promising winter-sports destination in the international circuit. Khelo India Winter Games is not merely an event, it is a mission to bring together the youth from all over the country and showcase our sporting talent to the world,” observed the LG.

He said that the event is one of the many efforts aimed at engaging the youth in constructive and positive activities.

Expressing gratitude towards the central government for taking several measures for the development of the sports sector in J&K, the LG observed that the “Government of India under the leadership of  Prime Minister is providing state-of-the-art sports infrastructure, world-class coaching and modern resources for promotion of sports in J&K.”

Underscoring the significance of sports, the LG observed that ‘Unity in Diversity’ is the beauty of sports that makes us stronger. It is a powerful medium to spread peace and building a better society, he maintained.

The LG also said that organizing winter games in the UT would promote the local talent and popularize the winter sports among the youth.

Highlighting measures taken by the UT government for bringing a revolution in the sports sector, the LG said that the Sports department and J&K Sports Council have been working with great commitment to engage more youth in sports activities.

“We are taking sports to the Panchayats and villages of J&K. Within a year, every Panchayat in the UT will be equipped with modern sports facilities. This will give further push to the Fit India Movement,” the LG observed.

He reiterated the government’s commitment to provide best quality facilities to the sportspersons so that they can bring laurels at different national and international platforms making J&K and the nation proud.

During the ‘Back to Village-3’ programme, all the 4290 Panchayats of the UT have been provided with sports kits worth Rs 20,000 each as per the local requirements, he added.

For encouragement of sports talent, the LG said that the government is providing sustained hand-holding to budding sports talent at grassroots level and experienced coaches are being roped in to hone their skills.

Government has signed an MoU with Suresh Raina Cricket Academy to develop promising cricketers of J&K to national and international level with a comprehensive training programme at a professional level, he added.

Addressing the sportspersons, the LG advised them to showcase the sportsmen spirit and learn from each other to enhance their skill sets.

“You are role models for what the country and Jammu & Kashmir wants to see in today’s heroes. This is your moment in Gulmarg and over the next five days, not just Jammu & Kashmir but India will be looking to you for inspiration,” LG asked the sportspersons.

Speaking on the impact of winter games on tourism, the LG observed that the winter games would give a further boost to tourism sector in J&K, besides giving a fillip to the socio-economic development of the region.

Union Minister Kiren Rijiju, in his address termed the occasion as an important day for sports in India and a leap towards developing winter sports culture and excellence in the country.

“Prime Minister’s dream of organising Winter Games in India was fulfilled last year with the first edition of Khelo India Winter Games. The success will be repeated this year as well with the joint efforts of the Government and the enthusiasm shown by the people towards winter games,” he added.

The Union MoS assured full support of the Union Sports Ministry in taking the sports sector in the UT to new heights. He further informed that Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Sports Complex will be developed into a Khelo India Sports Academy.

“Srinagar and Jammu will soon get the start of art Khelo India Centers for excellence where national and international experts will come and identify the sports talent,” he said.

“We will ensure that Kashmiri youths’ participation in Olympic Games so that Kashmiri boys too get Olympic medals and make the country proud,” Rijiju added.

He also informed that GoI has also approved water sports for Dal Lake in Srinagar in the coming summer. “We will inaugurate water sports in Dale Lake in the summer. Water sports has a great potential in Srinagar and elsewhere in Kashmir,” he said.

He said he will personally watch sports events at Gulmarg today and announced that he will also meet representatives of various sports federations and see what further steps can be taken to promote sports activities in Kashmir.

Earlier, the dignitaries also released Souvenir for the event. An impressive march past was also presented by the athletes.

Rajeev Rai Bhatnagar and Farooq Khan – Advisors to LG; Sandip Pradhan, DG Sports Authority of India; Rakesh Asthana,  Director General BSF;  Pandurang K Pole, Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir; Sarmad Hafeez, Secretary, Youth Services and Sports J&K; Mohammad Aijaz Asad, Deputy Commissioner, Baramulla; Dr. G. N. Itoo Director Tourism, Kashmir; Dr Saleem-ur- Rehman, DG Youth Services and Sports, J&K; Nuzhat Gul, Secretary J&K Sports Council; Mohammad Abbas Wani, President, Winter Games Association J&K, besides scores of prominent sports personalities and sports enthusiasts witnessed the inaugural ceremony of the mega event.

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