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Keeping basketball alive in Jammu and Kashmir

Keeping basketball alive in Jammu and Kashmir

Sounak Mullick

Published: 19 Jan 2018 10:58 PM GMT
Basketball is a sport which does not attract much attention in our country but the condition is even worse in Jammu and Kashmir where political turmoil often undermines the potential of the players. The State Basketball team is currently participating in the National Championships in Chennai and the players feel that the sport should be taken more seriously in the North Indian state. In spite of many difficulties, Aman Sharma, the senior coach of the Sports Authority of India (SAI) has shown the courage to prepare two teams in a hope that the experience in the Nationals will help the players develop themselves better for the future. Aman admitted that the Jammu and Kashmir Government has recently taken a lot of interest in the development of sports in the region which was not the scene earlier. 'There are a lot of peculiarities in the sports scene in J&K. Sports is not a priority there. Of late, the government has realised that the mainstreaming of the youth can be done through sports. They have started promoting sports in a big way,' said Aman to Sportstar. He added, 'Unfortunately, basketball is still not a popular sport because it needs some specific infrastructure which is not available at all. Except for Jammu and Srinagar, we do not have a basketball court anywhere in the state.' The Jammu and Kashmir Men's Basketball team lost to Andhra Pradesh by a single point in the ongoing Nationals. Head coach Aman confessed that they have performed pretty well compared to the facilities they were provided in the build-up to the tournament. According to him, the political unrest in the State has played 'a lot' of the spoilsport for them.
One of the star players in Jammu and Kashmir's Basketball team Aukif Khan expressed his disappointment about the lack of facilities in the Kashmir Valley, the place where he hails from. Regarding the matter, he said, 'In Srinagar, there is no basketball. I play all alone. I am my trainer. I go to Jammu once a year and participate in a camp. When we had a total shutdown, all I could do is to sit home and exercise.' Although, enough funds are not provided for the game, yet the love for the game draws them towards the court admits the skipper of Jammu and Kashmir's Women's team Abhileen Kour. She also complained that the presence of a single SAI centre is not sufficient for the sport. With just one SAI centre, we are pulling on. We fail in establishing a connect with the game due to this. We are improving step by step but we know where we stand in the national scene. No one funds our training. The love for basketball keeps us going and we have a tough task in sustaining it,' said Kour. Basketball was on the verge of a decline in 2015, but with the aid of a few administrators, the sport got a new lifeline in Jammu and Kashmir. Having created a strong base the state is trying to capitalise on the foundations to popularise Basketball in Jammu and Kashmir.
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