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Through cricket, Dr Rouf ur Rafiq takes rural environmentalism to new high

Post by Javid Sofi on Thursday, January 12, 2023

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Pulwama, Jan 11: It was in November 2022 when Dr Rouf ur Rafiq walked away with an award at Kashmir International Conference Centre in Srinagar for his innovative practices to promote rural environmentalism. The award was handed to him by Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Manoj Sinha during Kashmir Young Leadership Summit.
Simultaneously, Pulwama Gymkhana, a cricket club founded by Dr Rouf, was honoured as the best team of Jammu and Kashmir during the summit.
Pulwama Gymkhana which was floated by Dr Rouf on December 25, 2016 has become a household name among cricket followers. 
It’s popularity soared high after 9 players from the club went to play domestic first class tournaments or secured contracts by national and international cricket academies.
“The sole aim of floating Pulwama Gymkhana was to free the talented youth of Kashmir from clutches of exploitation and create a platform for them where they can demonstrate their professional skills in true competition,” Dr Rouf said, adding that it is the only team in Kashmir which is professionally managed. 
He said that Gymkhana gave a new impetus to the passion of cricket in Kashmir by providing best exposure to talented youth. 
He added that it was a trend that cricketers had to pay from their pockets to play in tournaments and they were getting peanuts in return. It were organisers who would benefit from the tournaments, he said.
“We changed that trend, we provide a prestigious platform to our young talent free of cost and they earn a decent amount, some of the players are earning rupees 60 to 80 thousand per month,” Dr Rouf said, adding that Pulwama Gymkhana provided a platform for more than 100 players from all parts of Kashmir.
Besides promoting cricket Dr Rouf blended environmentalism with the game. He organised saffron cricket league in Pulwama in 2016. “The aim of this tournament was to connect people with heritage, cricket and environment,” he said, adding that saffron is a heritage crop of Kashmir with 16000 families deriving their livelihood from it. 
“Whenever I visit a playfield I stress on maintaining cleanliness on the pitch, using dustbins and planting trees,” he said, adding that he wishes to make playfeilds as smoking free zones.
Dr Rouf has a doctorate in environmental science and is currently serving as assistant professor at Cluster University of Kashmir.

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