Junaid Hussain Mir, from Rainawari area of Srinagar is a Rugby player who has the distinction of playing 34 national games, and has represented J&K in the World under-15 Rugby tournament against Pakistan in 2013.
The valleyâ€™s Rugby star was also the part of 7th Callaghan Cup All India senior national Menâ€™s 15â€™s tournament, where J&K stood second. Besides, he has also played the game for a local club in Riyadh.
Rugby came into his life during his college days in Islamia College of Science and Commerce (ICSC). Although he used to watch the game, holding the ball in real and playing the game physically on field only happened during his college time.
â€œBefore college, I used to watch Rugby only on TV. It was the first time for me to watch this beautiful game live and that too in my own college. I felt on top of the world and there and then, I decided to be a part of the team, '' he says.
Inspired by Jonah Lomu, a New Zealand Rugby star, who died in 2015, Mir, although playing in college, had to rely on other sources to fetch more information regarding the game and to improve his game.
â€œWhile I was playing the game, I used additional resources like television, internet to learn the rules of the game thoroughly. Besides, I used to watch the videos of international players to improve on my skill set,â€ Mir said.
With each passing day his passion and love for the game was increasing.
According to Mir, life was not easy when he started playing Rugby.
â€œA lot has changed since then. You need players to play any game. When I started, it was very hard as only a few in the valley knew about the game.â€
â€œAs the game was new, therefore, there were almost no facilities, or infrastructure for players to play the game,â€ he added.
However, Mir feels the times have changed and now people are much informed about the game.
â€œRugby has now gained popularity in J&K as people have become aware of it. Now even Jammu And Kashmir Sports Council has given registration to it,â€ he says.
Mir is looking to promote Rugby in J&K and wants to set an example for newcomers.
Â â€œWe are working on a direction to introduce Rugby at a very grass root level and our primary targets are schools,â€ he adds.
He wants the valley youth to take up any sports rather than indulging themselves into ill activities.
"Our youth must engage themselves in sports activities including adventure sports as the valley is full of natural resources for sports. Youth must not indulge in drugs and other bad activities," he said.
Highlighting the significance the game holds at international level, Mir said â€œDuring an exhibition match, union minister Kiran Rijiju, affirmed that the government is ready to provide every type of platform for youths and they must come forward and take part in games like Rugby and football, which are globally popular.â€
According to Mir, this reaffirms that the game is not only popular at the national, but at the international level also.
He added that the Sports Minister had also said that JK players have the potential to lead India in Rugby tournament at the international events.
Besides Rugby sports, Junaid is fond of trekking and cycling also.
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