Gulmarg (NVI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi today inaugurated the second Khelo India Winter Games in Gulmarg, Jammu and Kashmir through virtual mode, and said that the event is a step towards making J&K a hub of winter sports in the country.
From February 26 to March 2, more than 600 Athletes from all over the country are participating in different winter-sports disciplines including Alpine Skiing, Nordic Ski, Snowboarding, Snow Mountaineering, Ice Hockey, Ice Skating, Ice Stock and Snow Shoe.
In his virtual address, PM said, “This is a step towards making India’s presence felt in the international winter games arena and also make Jammu and Kashmir a hub of winter sports.”
“These games will strengthen the resolve for Ek Bharat, Shreshth Bharat. I am told the participation has doubled this year and it is a reflection of the inclination towards winter sports in the country,” he added.
He said the experience from this winter games would help the players while participating in Winter Olympics.
“Winter games in Jammu & Kashmir would help in developing a new sporting ecosystem. This event would instill new spirit and enthusiasm in the tourism sector in Jammu & Kashmir,” PM Modi said.
With two Khelo India Centres of Excellence and Khelo India Centres in all 20 districts coming up in J&K, the UT would become the centre of sporting excellence, he added.
J&K Lt Governor Manoj Sinha, and Union minister of state, youth services and sports Kiren Rijiju were also present at the venue for the inauguration even as Gulmarg received fresh snowfall in the morning.
Speaking on the occasion, Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha called upon the participating sportspersons to spread the message of Peace, Unity, Goodwill, Love and Empowerment.
“Let us share this experience of unifying power of sports with the world,” he said.
“Gulmarg has been acknowledged as a promising Winter-sports destination in the International circuit. Khelo India Winter Games is not merely an event, it is a mission to bring together the youth from all over the country and showcase our sporting talent to the world,” the Lt Governor said.
He added that the mega event is one of the many efforts aimed at engaging the youth in constructive and positive activities.
Highlighting measures taken by the UT Government for bringing a revolution in the sports sector of J&K, the LG said that the Sports Department and J&K Sports Council have been working with great commitment to engage more youth in sports activities.
“We are taking sports to the panchayats and villages of J&K. Within a year, every panchayat in the UT will be equipped with modern sports facilities. This will give further push to the Fit India Movement,” he said.
“During the Back to Village-3 programme, all the 4290 Panchayats of the UT have been provided with sports kits worth Rs 20,000 each as per the local requirements,” he added.
The J&K Government has also signed an MoU with Suresh Raina Cricket Academy to develop promising cricketers of J&K to National & International level with a comprehensive training programme at a professional level, Sinha added.
Speaking on the impact of winter games on tourism, the Lt Governor observed that the winter games would give a further boost to tourism sector in J&K, besides giving a fillip to the socio-economic development of the region.
Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, who is himself a fitness enthusiast, in his address termed the occasion as an important day for sports in India and a leap towards developing winter sports culture and excellence in the country.
“Prime Minister’s dream of organising Winter Games in India was fulfilled last year with the first edition of Khelo India Winter Games. The success will be repeated this year as well with the joint efforts of the Government and the enthusiasm shown by the people towards winter games,” Rijiju said.
The Union Minister assured full support of the Union Sports Ministry in taking the sports sector in the UT to new heights. He further informed that Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Sports Complex will be developed into a Khelo India Sports Academy.