“Games and sports are an integral part of our life. It plays an essential role in the development of the human resources of a nation. The energy and potential of youth could be channelised for productive and meaningful purposes through games and sports. Jammu and Kashmir has prioritised the promotion of games and sports among the youth. The aim is to use sports to transform the youth into a self-confident, organised, and competent workforce, which could bring social changes and economic development to the region.”
Talent is available far and wide, but what is required is identifying such talent at the right time and providing the necessary support system to hone their capabilities. To energise and channelise the energy of youth, the government of J&K took out a new sports policy . Through this policy, the government has envisioned creating a desired eco-system enabling youth to scale new heights.
Youth can make a significant and positive contribution toward the efforts of maintaining and promoting peace and security. The youth could play a crucial role in preventing and resolving the problem of terrorism and act as a vital aspect of sustainability and inclusiveness. This could lead to successful peacekeeping efforts and peace-building measures in the region.
It is imperative to understand youth’s challenges, especially the inequalities or gender discrimination that put young women at high risk. Therefore the government should try to enhance women’s empowerment and gender equality. There has been a growing contribution of sports and youth in realising peace and development, promoting tolerance and respect, and empowering youth and women, individuals and communities through sports, health, education, and social and cultural initiatives.
The government of J&K has initiated several steps in ensuring at least one playfield in every Panchayat, the establishment of over 4500 Youth Clubs and organising several sports activities to empower the youth of the J&K. It is heartening to note that despite constraints due to the COVID-19 pandemic, about 17 Lac persons participated in different sports and games activities.
The Indian Army organised Jashn-E-Janoob, a sports festival to motivate the youths of Kashmir towards sports activities to reduce militancy in the area. The 15-day-long event, Jashn-E-Janoob, was conducted in Aug 2021. Many youngsters participated actively in the festival and demonstrated various sports skills, including kabaddi, running, and Sky Martial Arts.
The government of India is trying to make J&K a sports destination by creating world-class infrastructure and introducing a new sports policy for the Union Territory. As per Jammu and Kashmir sports council, around 500 athletes have won medals in numerous games at the national level. There has been a colossal revolution in sports infrastructure all over Jammu and Kashmir. Various new stadiums of the international standard have been created, while many others are being built up in various districts of the Union Territory. The Sports Council of Jammu and Kashmir has motivated young people to take sports as a career.
In the last two years, J&K athletes have proved their mettle. While Arif Khan represented India at the Winter Olympics in Beijing, Sadia Tariq won India a gold medal at the Moscow Wushu Championship. Bilquis Mir, Director of water sports, also became the first Kashmiri woman to be a judge at the Olympics. And in the IPL, Umraan Malik has also made his name by being the fastest bowler in India.
Jammu and Kashmir has enough talent and needs proper direction and a platform to advance in life’s journey. Today sports in J&K are taking a new stride and making a new curve on the peace, security and development graph. The youth and children choose sports as a tool to rise in life and achieve great success. Participating in sports and games could help reduce stress levels and increase feelings of physical and mental well-being. Sports provide physical and mental stress relief, which can help certain mental health disorders like depression and anxiety. Psychotherapist Ashley Miller states that anxiety and depression are often triggered or exacerbated by excessive stress levels.
There are two distinct terminologies for sport, i.e. sport plus and plus sport. Sport plus initiatives primarily focus on honing sports skills and increasing sports participation, and they usually involve competitive sports structures. Any potential health, social, psychological and behavioural benefits are seen as a by-product of participation. Essentially, sport comes first, and specific development activities and learning are delivered around sports participation. In contrast, the term plus sports projects are interventions that use sports as a hook for participants, with a primary focus on non-sport aims and objectives, focusing on social benefits, such as health and well-being or conflict management. They prioritise outcomes through behaviour changes, capacity-building and social, cultural and economic impact.