Age can never be an obstacle in achieving one’s goal. If one is determined and does his work with passion and commitment there is nothing worthwhile that cannot be achieved. Sixty-one-year-old Muhammad Ashraf Dijoo is one such example.
The sexagenarian believes age cannot refrain one from participating in sports and learning. Dijoo has dedicated his life to the promotion of Roll ball and skating and other winter sports in the valley. He is also on a mission to keep children away from the drug menace. He says substance abuse has ruined the lives of many youths and sports is the best way to channelize their energy in a positive direction.
Despite being in his 60’s, Dijoo has shown adding years in one's age should not come in the way of chasing his or her passion and dreams and inculcate the same spirit to the next generation.
Dijoo had an inclination towards adventure sports since his childhood. He learned Judoo (martial Arts) at a young age and has played water games when he was 1o. He has also played Ice hockey and participated in many winter games and brought laurels to J&K many a time.
He has also remained a coach during Khelo India 2021 in winter sports in Gulmarg. He held the responsibility of National Ice Skating (short track speed) coach for team India at Singapore in Dec 19-Jan 2020.
Dijoo is currently discharging his services as General Secretary, Ice Skating Association of Jammu and Kashmir, Biathlon Association of Jammu and Kashmir, Ice Hockey Association of Jammu and Kashmir. Besides, he is Secretary Roll Ball Association of Jammu and Kashmir and winter Games Association of J&K. He is also General Secretary Baba Ram Dev Ji Yoga Sanstha Leh, J&K.
The 61-year-old started his roller skating voyage in 1978. He has been conducting training camps in Burn Hall School and Bakshi Stadium on skating rings.
“Roll ball is an endogenous game of India. It is India’s own game. It was invented by Pune-based Raju Dabhade in 2003. This sport is now played in more than 50 different countries. I introduced roll ball here in Kashmir in 2005, after finishing training as a coach and referee in Pune,” he says.
He says they started organising championships in 2008; made teams of Jammu and Kashmir in various age categories.
“We have produced some national-level roll ball players. Our three players including Salman, Mutahib and Musaib have also bagged gold medals in 2010, and our girls team is doing well in both roll ball and roller skating” he said.
Dijoo further says he conducts training sessions every year almost three times to teach these children roll ball and roller skating.
Roller skating is travelling on surfaces with roller skates. It is recreational sport, an activity, and a form of transportation. “It is artistic.”
Roll ball is a game played between two teams and is a unique combination of roller skates, basketball, handball, and throwball. It is played on “roller shoes” with each team consisting of twelve players, six on the field and six in reserve.
In the current year 2021 they secured second position in J&K championship.
“We lack a skating rink in civil lines, and we have raised the issue with Jammu and Kashmir sports council who assured us of developing a skating rink in Gindun Stadium Rajbagh that too of international standard,” he said.
“Till date we have a skating rink of national standard available only in Doon international school.”
He says he considers himself lucky that he has been able to train 70 players/children for the last year. Children from age 4 can learn skating and there is no upper age limit, he says.
For the last three months, Dijoo while urging his trainees to follow Covid appropriate behavior has conducted camps in Redwenpora.
“To ease the burden of the children who are going through a lot of stress amid the pandemic, I continued to teach them skating and roll ball,” he adds.
It takes students one week to fifteen days to learn balancing, he says.
Initially students are being taught on chords (four-tire skates), then they learn balancing, then mild walking, later technique, and then they are trained in playing on inline skating and speed skating.
Dijoo provides free training and coaching to these students.
“We have WhatsApp groups through which we convey messages to the parents of the children,” he says.
Initially it was not easy as a low number of children; youngsters came forward owing to lack of infrastructure and other facilities.
“Unfortunately, it is only skating rink of Redwenpora which is running these days in the whole J&K, though another skating rink is under construction in Pulwama,” he says.
He adds that with time, youngsters and parents found it interesting and fascinating. Thus, passion for roller skating and roll ball is increasing with each passing day; they have shown great inclination towards this sport, he says.
He said the Government of India has included Roll ball in SRO list, after participation in two national games, one can qualify for a job in the public sector.
Dijoo said Jammu and Kashmir sports councils, Ministry of youth and sports affairs (GoI) must focus their attention towards the availability of equipment and infrastructure for promotion of skating and roll ball culture in the valley.
“Not every child belongs to an affluent family, the government must provide free equipment at least to poor children,” he said.
Dijoo said he wants to see his students participate and perform on national and international platforms.
Achievements/participation in sports events
Dijoo represented India for Ice Hockey coaching camp in Japan in 2002.
He won a Bronze Medal in the first National Winter Games in 1998.
Dijoo pioneered cycle polo skating in J&K. Ice skating in Jammu province, Roll ball in Kashmir province, Winter Biathlon in J&K in 2004, Ice roll ball in India in 2014.
He is member of water sports J&K, Adventure Sports J&K, Gen Secretary (1991-1997) officers Club , Baroo-Kargil, J&K national adventure in Aero sports.
Represented J&K as judge for ice skating/ figure skating in 2002, 2003 in nationals.
Won Army award in 1995-96 in Kargil for conducting the first-ever snow skiing course for army and civilians.
Represented India in SAF Winter Games in 2010-2011 as Technical Committee Member.
Represented in third roll ball world cup as technical official 2015. Chief Minister’s Sports award Holder 2016. Given award of excellence in snow carnival 2017.
Bagged award of excellence in various National Winter Games 2004, 2008, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019.
Has also represented India in National Ice Skating (short track speed) as coach at Singapore in Dec 2019- Jan 2020.
Silver and Bronze medalist at open Kashmir Roller skating championship conducted by J&K Sports Council in 1978-79 and 1981-82.
Won President’s (NGP) award under TSC at Haryana in 2007-2008.