Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir needs 2500 play fields for its 1.21 crore population to harness its true sporting potential and take sports from the capitals to other districts and towns of the state, according to the State Sports Council.
Officials at the supervisory body for sports activities in the state, feel that the existing 137 play fields — mostly concentrated in Jammu and Srinagar — are just too small in number to allow a proper environment for budding sportspersons of the state.
According to officials, while Srinagar district accounts for 29 of the 103 playfields of the valley, Jammu district has half of the 34 playfields in entire Jammu region which consists of 10 districts.
Surprisingly, Ladakh region — consisting of Leh and Kargil districts — has no play field at all, an official said.
The council has formulated an ambitious plan of making play fields accessible to all the people of the state but it will require massive funding.
With no resources of its own, the Council is looking up to the state government and the Centre to fund this massive development of sports infrastructure.
“The infrastructure requirement has been projected to the Chief Minister during a meeting recently and the draft paper envisages one play field each for every 8,000 persons,” said a Sports Council official on conditions of anonymity.
The official said while there is enormous talent and potential as far as sports is concerned, lack of proper sporting facilities is proving a major stumbling block in the transition of players from the state to the level where they will be in reckoning for representing the country.
“We have players like Parvez Rasool (Kashmir’s only international cricketer) and Manzoor Pandav (who was recently signed by IPL franchise Kings XI Punjab) coming through the ranks. They have showcased their talent even though we do not have proper training facilities other than the cricket stadium where only limited number of players have access,” the official said.
He also cited the example of top footballers like former Indian captain Majid Kakroo, Mehrajuddin Wadoo and Ishfaq Ahmad who have shone at the national level.
“We have now got an astro turf where our footballers can practice throughout the year. The results have started to show in very short span of time. We have two teams from Kashmir playing the I-League second division and some players from the valley have gone to play in European clubs. There is no dearth of talent,” he said.
The athletes from the state have won over 250 medals in zonal and national level sporting events during 2016-17, the official said adding this was testimony to the enthusiasm for sports in the state.
As per the projections for infrastructure development, the Sports Council wants the number of playing fields in Baramulla district to be increased from present 22 to 320.
Similarly, in Anantnag district, the council wants to add 258 playing grounds to the existing 17 grounds.
The council, in its report, has laid major thrust on increasing the number of play fields in Jammu division from 34 to 1302 in order to provide sporting opportunities to the nearly 70 lakh population.
It has also proposed 200 playing fields for Udhampur district, 197 for Rajouri, 185 for Kathua, 175 for Jammu district, and around 100 each play fields for other districts of the division. Only Doda (50) and Samba (68) districts have got a proposal of less than 100 play fields.