Kiren Rijiju inaugurates first ever Khelo India Winter Games at Gulmarg

Union Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports, Kiren Rijiju today said that Government of India was mulling to bolster sports ecology of Jammu and Kashmir saying that Kashmir would be hub of winter games.

Inaugurating the maiden Khelo India Winter Games here today, Rijiju said that Jammu and Kashmir has a huge potential in sports sector and Government would do everything possible to upgrade the sports infrastructure and sports ecology of the Himalayan region. He said that with an aim to promote winter sports in India, the Government of India would setup National Excellence Center of Winter Sports in Gulmarg. “It will be a residential facility funded by GoI where professional winter games athletes will be trained for world class competitions,” he added.

The Union Minister said that Government would encourage interested athletes or retired sports veterans for setting up sports centers across Jammu and Kashmir. “Coaches of different sports categories will be given Rs 5 Lakh for setting up sports centers across J&K,” he assured, adding “It will not only help us to identify talent and hone their skills in various sports but will be a source of employment as well.”

Saying that J&K has a huge talent, the Union Minister complimented the local players for bagging medals in various national and international events. He said that this is a historic event not only for J&K but whole country. “Those who are here today at this place are lucky. This is the beginning of mega sports events in Gulmarg. More mega events are in pipeline for this place,” he said.

The Union Minister said he is hopeful that with the culmination of  the event footfall of tourists will increase. He said he was impressed with the enthusiasm shown by the athletes in today’s event.

Extending invitation to sports and nature lovers, the Union Minister said the travellers should come and feel the natural wonder here. “Only then they can realise what paradise on Earth is,” he said. He said the winter games will give a big fillip to tourism industry here. He said tourists don’t need to go to Europe when Kashmir is just in the country. “Travellers should come here and enjoy the beauty and also fun-filled winter activities.”

Notably, there are about 30 events including snowboarding, snow skiing, cross country and snow show in which players from across India are participating. Besides this, snow cycling and other games are also held for the local children.

Pertinently, the world-famous ski destination Gulmarg is abuzz with the several activities held under five- day national winter games event starting from today under Khelo India- a national programme for development of sports.

On the occasion, Mr. Rijiju was presented memento by Advisor to Lt Governor, Farooq Khan.

Artists from Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages enthralled the audience with their performances.

The inauguration ceremony was attended by Advisor to Lieutenant Governor, Farooq Khan; DG Sports Authority of India, Sandeep Pradhan; Principal, High Altitude Warfare School (HAWS), Major General Atul Kaushik; Secretary, Youth Services and Sports, Sarmad Hafeez; DG Youth Services and Sports, Dr Saleem ul Rehman; Deputy Commissioner, Baramulla, Dr Ghulam Nabi Itoo; Secretary, J&K Sports Council, Dr Naseem Javid Choudhary besides other senior officers of civil and police administration.

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