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Water sports gaining popularity in Kashmir

Post by on Tuesday, August 24, 2021

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The phenomenal rise in water sports activities combined with staycations means more and more people are enjoying being in, on, or around the water.  Great for fitness and fun, research shows water sports also have a positive impact on wellbeing and mental health.
This year’s water sports in Kashmir have seen a huge boom. Water sports arena at Nehru Park Srinagar is packed with all the latest products from stand-up paddleboards to inflatable kayaks, wakeboards, and all the clothing kit and accessories to go with them.  “The brand-new water sports arena packs everything into one exciting and vibrant location,” says Bilques Mir, former India water sports Coach.
For water sports enthusiasts this is the newest trend that has rejuvenated and electrified water sports immeasurably.
The water sports arena in Srinagar has Olympic standard equipment, with well-trained coaches and staff.
Kashmir is blessed with natural water resources and it’s the ideal place for water sports. For the last couple of years, water Sports is seeing a rise. According to Bilques, there’s an infrastructural boost. “The players can see themselves represent the country in these not so famous water sports. When I was a player, I wasn’t blessed with such facilities but still, I reached many heights in my playing career but now with the new evolution of water sports, I see players representing the country more often.”
Earlier this year in March, a national camp was organized in which top players from all over the country participated, in water Sports Arena Srinagar. “These players prepared themselves for the Olympic qualifying round which was held in Thailand. We received a positive response from these players because they benefited from the high altitude of Kashmir and wonderful infrastructure” said the former coach.
Young Kids are interested and enthusiastic about water Sports. Parents are coming forward to encourage their kids to take these water sports. “During my time there was little awareness about water sports and our parents didn’t take it seriously. We had to find ways to leave our homes and practice these sports,” added Bilques.
The result is evident; Kashmir is performing on the national level. It has won a total of 70 medals in the last three years only. It will get even better as another Water Sports arena by the name of Ranjit Sagar will be fully developed.
In various districts of Kashmir, the water sports camps are getting developed, so that this sport improves at the grassroots level. It provides an opportunity for new athletes coming from far flung areas and performing at the highest level.
Some of the water sports include Surfing, Swimming, Jet Skiing, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Cliff Diving, Triathlon, Water Polo, Canoeing, Dragon Boat Racing, Kayaking, Rafting. Kayaking and Canoeing is the largest Olympic event and considered an elite sport.
“We have to do long planning of up to 8 years to see our athletes representing in the Olympics, largely focusing on coaching. We have to take coaching in a scientific way. In my playing days, our coaches didn’t have a proper plan, we didn’t have proper dietitians and good physios to improve other aspects of the game and be at par with other athletes of different countries. Moreover, we have to work as a team to get the best out of the player so that he can compete and win at the highest level,” says Bilques.
Talent identification, Bilques says, is the first step of water sports, “we have to see what features should be there to be better at a particular sport. In Kayaking an athlete should be tall, and the wingspan should be pretty decent. These are things other countries do.”
Water sports also help improve the tourism scenario of Kashmir, as more and more athletes travel to Kashmir for water sporting events. To accommodate for their stay, hoteliers get benefited, transportation also sees a boost and these athletes also act as promoters which automatically boosts Kashmir tourism.
Vilayat Hussain from Saida Kadal Srinagar is national Medalist in ‘Canoe Slalom’. He developed interest in water sports in 2011. Prior to that, he represented the state in Track and Field but soon realized, he can do better in waters. “I heard about water sports from Bilques Ma’am and decided to join the water sports Arena in Srinagar and started practicing for two years. His hard work and determination paid off and in nationals held at Sonamarg, he won the Gold Medal for Jammu and Kashmir in ‘Canoe Slalom’. This journey continued and he has 24 medals at the national level.
“The infrastructure development improved as I played this sport which helped me in winning more and more medals. If we work hard, we can represent not only at the national level but we can also participate in the Olympics. We have such potential here in Kashmir when it comes to water sports.”
 Bigger and better than ever before, there’s something for everyone at the Water Sports arena in Srinagar.  Alongside the beautiful Dal Lake, the water sports zone is the perfect place to find new sports that help you get fit and healthy.

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