BARAMULLA — The 3rd edition of the Khelo India National Winter Games began at Gulmarg with a message by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the participating players.
The mega sports event was declared open in the presence of Lieutenant Governor of J&K, Manoj Sinha and Union Minister for Youth Affairs & Sports and I&B, Anurag Thakur.
During the biggest winter sports tournament, more than 1500 athletes from all over the country will compete in 11 different winter sports disciplines.
Union Sports Minister, Anurag Thakur lauded the J&K Government for developing sports facilities at grassroots level and achieving unprecedented progress in the sports sector in a short span of time.
“What Jammu and Kashmir has done in the world of sports in just three years is a matter of great pride. Indoor stadiums have been built in every district and every village has a playground. Where once there used to be incidents of stone pelting, today football, wushu and various sports are played there. This is the picture of new Jammu Kashmir,” he added.
The Union Minister assured full support and cooperation in developing the Center of Excellence for Winter Games in the UT. “It is the vision of PM, Narendra Modi, to create sporting infrastructure across India. The setting up of a National Centre of Excellence in the valley will support the athletes of J&K,” he said.
In his address, Lt Governor Manoj Sinha said PM Narendra Modi’s message and blessings to the players participating in the 3rd Khelo India National Winter Games will encourage and inspire them.
Khelo India Winter Games will celebrate and honour sporting excellence and witness the contests of skill and endurance of athletes. “It is a great occasion to strive for the greatest victory, to uphold the spirit of sportsmanship, peace, equality, friendship and respect for the competitors. The spirit of oneness, Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat will make us stronger,” the Lt Governor said.
“The entire country at the moment is united by the 3rd Winter Games dream. Each player participating will become the best ambassador of J&K. With the spirit of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, this sporting spectacle will strengthen the bond of goodwill and unite all the players as one family,” the Lt Governor said.
On behalf of the people of J&K, the Lt Governor welcomed the players, officials and sports enthusiasts and invited all the guests, who have come from every corner of the country to enjoy J&K’s hospitality, to enjoy the games and to enjoy the incredible sights and sounds of Jammu Kashmir.
The Lt Governor also highlighted the transformation in J&K’s sporting culture under the leadership of the Prime Minister.
“In the past few years, J&K has given many sporting heroes to the country. Continuous efforts of the UT Government in developing world-class sports infrastructure and facilities in every nook and corner of UT, vibrant sports culture and sports budget at par with bigger states have added a new dimension to J&K’s Sports sector,” said the Lt Governor.
“The welfare of sportspersons is our priority. Special efforts are being made to ensure a dignified life for our sportspersons and to encourage youth to choose sports as a career. The participation of more than 50 lakh youth in various sporting events last year is a testimony to this commitment,” he added.
“With the help of the Union Sports Ministry, we will work for establishing a Center of Excellence for Winter Games. The location has already been identified. All efforts are being made to provide opportunities for sportspersons to excel in their career,” the Lt Governor noted.
On the occasion, Lt Governor and Union Sports Minister e-launched 40 Khelo India Centres across Jammu Kashmir. The Centres have been dedicated to all the budding sportspersons of J&K UT.
Sarmad Hafeez, Secretary, Youth Affairs & Sports J&K and Nuzhat Gul, Secretary, J&K Sports Council shared the achievements of the J&K UT in the national and international sports arena.
Rajeev Rai Bhatnagar, Advisor to Lt Governor; Dr. Arun Kumar Mehta, Chief Secretary; Lt Gen Amardeep Singh Aujla, GOC, 15 Corps; representatives of various sports organizations, prominent sports personalities and sports lovers witnessed the inaugural ceremony.