Srinagar: The central government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has allocated a development package for Jammu and Kashmir which is set to boost water sports in the state.
One of Kashmir’s most famous attractions, Dal Lake, has not got a world-class sports centre. The high altitude and extensive training can help players from the valley to represent the country on the global stage, even at the Olympics.
The water sports centre of Srinagar was deserted earlier but today it has been revived and players come here to learn kayaking and canoeing and other activities from five o'clock in the morning.
The players are trained by international-level coaches. The centre houses state-of-the-art equipment that has been imported from Portugal and Hungary. The government has spent about Rs 3 crore on the construction of this centre.
“Water sports is flourishing rapidly in Jammu and Kashmir. If we talk of development, then hardly any other sports has got a boost like this in the PM's package. If we look at this centre today, it’s the country's best centre. Our team is getting very strong and the credit goes to the government of Jammu and Kashmir and the government of India, who have brought this sport to the heights with sound planning,” said the Director of Jammu and Kashmir Water Sports.
“When we used to pedal we didn't have this stuff but today professional stuff is world available. The day is not far when we will not only have international players here but also international tournaments will be held here,” the official said.
Players from the region are interested in water sports as there are a lot of water bodies in Kashmir. Experts believe that this training in high altitude and hard water is very beneficial for the players and with decent training, there is hope that the Indian team will make it to the Olympic podium.
The players are happy to get training here and believe that they could reach the international level.
“I am learning kayaking and it's very nice here. My training is also very good. I love kayaking. I believe I can be an international player one day. In Olympics they use the same equipment which is here. They (the authorities) give us everything so we can be international players,” said Navida khan, a trainee.
Another trainee Shaista said, “I want to say that the training given here is good for our development. We have to come at five o'clock every day and get trained for two to three hours. The equipment provided here, the infrastructure is very good.”
Apart from this centre, two more water sports centres are being built in Jammu and Kashmir so that water sports can be taken to the international level.