The year 2016 was mixed bag as far as sports activities in Kashmir are concerned. The year saw a total lull in activities during summer unrest followed by unexpected acceleration in the activities at fag end of the year.
When it looked like that sports season after passing of winter season and Ramadan would start with full throttle the summer unrest brought everything to a grinding halt. Then in October the activities again started to pick up that reached its zenith in November and December. In the last two months of the year there was also unexpected martial art International medal winning bonanza in Kashmir that caught eye of every sports enthusiast. Apart from that the year saw performance of top two sports disciplines like cricket and football as dismal as for as team performances are concerned while on individual level Parvez Rasool, Ian Dev, Shubham Khajuria, Samiullah shined. As has been case from last more than a decade, Mehraj ud Din Wadoo and Ishfaq Ahmad kept making JK proud. In cycling it was Muhammad Akber Khan who remained in the limelight. He was also joined in frame by Adil Teli and Mansoor Ahmad who bagged medals in national championship. The Adventure sport was in news again all-through the year. In skiing Arif Khan was among the top players in alpine skiing across country. In water sports, Coach Bilques Mir was assigned to lead Indian side in International event and apart from that JK water sports teams bagged several medals at national level.
The star cricketer who has got the distinction of being first International cricketer of JK performed brilliantly for the team in Ranji trophy. Though team outing was again dismal like last season, but Parvez made it sure to finish season as best all-rounder in Country. He finished season with 629 runs and 38 wickets.
Mehraj-ud-Din Wadoo, Ishfaq Ahmad Football Icons
They have been doing it for the past 14 years after breaking into national football arena. Once they got break the football duo of Mehraj ud Din Wadoo and Ishfaq Ahmad made it sure to keep themselves among top notch footballers of country with their hard work and talent. While Wadoo shined as defender for Chennaiyin FC in Indian Super League, Ishfaq acted as player cum assistant coach for Kerala Blaster’s in same league. The veteran footballer’s are the only players till date to play in ISL from J&K.
Cycling star Akber Khan
Kashmir that is mostly known for producing top footballers added one more feather to its cap by producing the first International cyclist of State Muhammad Akber Khan. This season Akber continued to shine for JK at national and local level by performing brilliantly. Akber who plays for TCI Max recently won two gold medals in All India Inter-University championship. He also finished third in Chandigarh Cyclothon. Akber in 2016 was also in news when former Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, gifted him an imported professional cycle worth 2.75 lakhs.
The craze that was re-ignited among Kashmir youth in 2015 remained intact in 2016 as well. Various trekking clubs held various trekking expeditions all across the state. Even during summer unrest months, tourism department sponsored Climbathon was held in Ladakh. The trekkers from Kashmir were also able to climb peaks like Stok Kangri, Matho Kangri and Mount vale Head during the season. The trekking expeditions of Shifakhla and Choolingha were also carriedout.
Martial Art Medal Bonanza
It all started on November 12 with Bandipora’s 8-yearl old girl Tajamul Islam winning gold medal in World Kick Boxing championship in Italy. The hype, media attention that Tajamul generated martial medal rush in Kashmir. Every other day came out a player claiming to have won International Karate, Taekwon-Do, Sqay, Thang-Ta or Tong Il Moo Do medals at International level. All of a sudden it started to look like that all of martial art talent in the world is in Kashmir. While the authenticity of these International medals raised many eyebrows but nevertheless it was martial art medal bonanza in Kashmir during last two months of the year.
Since the time former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) youth wing head, Waheed Ur Rehman Parra was assigned the job of Secretary Sports Council. The job that he was assigned instantly started paying off with Parra rejuvenating the ailing Sports Council. The sports activities suddenly got a flip in October that continued throughout the November and December. The activities were held all over the State and biggest function was held in Sheri-Kashmir Indoor Stadium, Srinagar in which Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was the chief guest.
Skier Arif Khan
Alpine skier Arif Khan shined again in 2016. He became first Indian Alpine skier to make it to final of Federation International Skiing (FIS) championship held in USA. In December he also bagged a place in the India for Asian Winter Games. Apart from that he kept himself busy throughout the year by participating in various FIS events across the World.
Wani to head JK Winter Games
In last week of December MLA Tangmarg and skier Muhammad Abbass Wani was elected as President of Winter Games Association of J&K. Wani replaced Secretary Tourism Farooq Ahmad Shah as the President of the Association as the later chose not to contest after completion of his term. He is the first skier to head the Association and that puts big challenge in front of to put the winter games back on track in JK.
While the low level sports activities were on and low profile sports events kept hogging the headlines, it was the A-Grade sports disciplines like cricket, football, athletics’ that remained on back foot. Sports Council may have boosted the number’s that throng to its office but the fact remains that basic problem of developing infrastructure and maintenance of existing venues remain where it was last year.
The story first appeared in Daily Greater Kashmir and here is original link from Greater Kashmir website : http://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/sports/story/237521.html