GULMARG — Prime Minister, Narendra Modi on Friday delivered the inaugural address at the second edition of Khelo India National Winter Games-2021 through virtual mode.
Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha and Union Minister of State (I/C) for Youth Affairs and Sports, Kiren Rijiju also addressed the huge gathering during the inaugural ceremony of the mega event at world famous winter sports destination – Gulmarg.
From February 26 to March 02, 2021, 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 address, the Prime Minister observed that the second edition of Khelo India Winter Games is a major step towards making Jammu and Kashmir a hub of the Winter Games.
The Prime Minister said that winter games in Jammu & Kashmir would help in developing a new sporting ecosystem and would instill new spirit and enthusiasm in the tourism sector in Jammu & Kashmir.
“Experience from this winter games would help the players while participating in the Winter Olympics,” said the PM.
“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.
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 the power of sports with the world,” remarked the Lt Governor.
“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,” observed the Lt Governor.
The Lt Governor said that the mega event is one of the many efforts aimed at engaging the youth in constructive and positive activities.
Expressing gratitude towards the Central government for taking several measures for the development of the sports sector in J&K, the Lt Governor observed that the Government of India under the able leadership of the Prime Minister is providing state-of-the-art sports infrastructure, world-class coaching and modern resources for promotion of sports in J&K.
Underscoring the significance of sports, the Lt Governor observed that ‘Unity in Diversity’ is the beauty of sports that makes us stronger. “It is a powerful medium to spread peace and building a better society,” he maintained.
The Lt Governor said that organizing winter games in the UT would promote the local talent and popularize the winter sports among the youth.
Highlighting measures taken by the UT Government for bringing a revolution in the sports sector of J&K, the Lt Governor 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,” observed the Lt Governor.
The Lt Governor reiterated the government’s commitment to provide best quality facilities to the sportspersons so that they can bring laurels at different National and International platforms, making J&K and the nation proud.
“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.
For encouragement of sports talent, the Lt Governor said that the government is providing sustained hand-holding to budding sports talent at grassroots level and experienced coaches are being roped in to hone their skills.
“The Government has 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,” he added.
Addressing the sportspersons, the Lt Governor advised them to showcase the sportsmen spirit and learn from each other to enhance their skill sets.
“You are role models for what the country and Jammu & Kashmir wants to see in today’s heroes. This is your moment in Gulmarg and over the next five days, not just Jammu & Kashmir but India will be looking to you for inspiration,” the Lt Governor asked the sportspersons.
Speaking on the impact of winter games on tourism, the Lt Governor observed that the winter games would give a further boost to the tourism sector in J&K, besides giving a fillip to the socio-economic development of the region.
The Lt Governor conveyed his best wishes and hoped that the athletes from across the country would not only play the games but also enjoy the scenic beauty of Jammu & Kashmir.
Union Minister of State (I/C) for Youth Affairs and Sports, Kiren Rijiju, 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,” he added.
The Union MoS 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.
Earlier, the dignitaries also released Souvenir for the event. An impressive march past was also presented by the Athletes.
Rajeev Rai Bhatnagar and Farooq Khan – Advisors to Lt Governor; Sandip Pradhan, DG Sports Authority of India; Rakesh Asthana, Director General BSF; Pandurang K Pole, Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir; Sarmad Hafeez, Secretary, Youth Services and Sports J&K; Mohammad Aijaz Asad, Deputy Commissioner, Baramulla; Dr. G. N. Itoo Director Tourism, Kashmir; Dr Saleem-ur- Rehman, DG Youth Services and Sports, J&K; Nuzhat Gul, Secretary J&K Sports Council; Mohammad Abbas Wani, President, Winter Games Association J&K, besides scores of prominent sports personalities and sports enthusiasts witnessed the inaugural ceremony of the mega event.