By Altaf A sofi
Nissar Hussain, a renowned footballer represented Jammu and Kashmir at the national level. He has played for Iqbal Sports and J&K Police teams in all major football tournaments in India, and earned prestigious awards, including the President’s Police Medal for Meritorious Services to development of sports, Rashtriya Gandhi Award, Prime Minister’s Award for Sports and Youth Development.
Nissar put in a lot of effort to revive sports activities during the two decades of turmoil such as the Hot Weather Football Tournament in the early 1990.
He, now vice president of Taekwondo Association of J&K, sounds disappointed about the state of sports in the state. “In the last 10 years, there have been no plans for development of sports. Grounds, stadiums are in shambles. Saad Ahmad, Atul Pagontra and others sportspersons won medals in the Commonwealth Games 2011, but the government hasn’t done anything for them. In fact, they didn’t even get a single penny to travel to Delhi to take part in the Games. In other states, if a sportsperson wins medal, he gets two to three lakh rupees as reward from his state,” Nissar said.
That is not all. The state lacks the basic facilities required for a sportsperson to train and excel, Nissar said. There are hardly any good playgrounds, good coaches and equipment.
“See the condition of play grounds at polo ground, TRC and Eidgah. There is no proper drainage and water remains on the grounds for months,” he said. “The Youth Services and Sports department does not have certified coaches. They are, in fact, no posts for coaches. It’s quite strange that you train sportspersons without coaches and grounds and expect them to bring medals and trophies. Major sports associations in the valley are defunct.”
Football clubs in the valley tried hiring foreign players on the lines of the Indian Premium League to give local players a chance to learn from them, but even this has been done shoddily. “Foreign players introduced by J&K football clubs fail to perform because they lack skills and talent. These players are rejected by all clubs in India, but then, in lieu of commissions, they come here and get free accommodation, food, travel and play. But, of course, they don’t perform,” Nissar said. “So instead of spending lakhs of rupees on foreign players, the clubs should hire local footballers after fair trails and provide them a platform to excel.”
He added, “Recently I conducted an under-17 football tournament at Green Valley School in which different schools and academies from across the valley took part. I was amazed to see so much energy among children.”
So, what is the way out of this sorry state of affairs? “The government must be more active and sincere in reviving and promoting sports activities, rather than just tweet about it. Saad, Anil, Parvez, Mehraj, Ishfaq and several other sportspersons have shown that there is no dearth of talent in the valley, but lack of infrastructure and good coaches has hampered sports,” Nissar said. “Also, parents have a responsibility to not keep their children away from sports.”