Sports Transformed Kashmir’s Agitating Youth: Navin Agarwal

SRINAGAR – After 2008-2010 mass uprising in Kashmir, the sports activities that were halted have now proved a “vital tool for the police and civil administration to transform the mentality of the agitating youth,” officials told Kashmir Observer.

“Sport and games are not new to me. I have now been asked to explore the unexplored sports talent across the state. I think the buzzing sports activities after 2008-2010 agitation proved a vital tool for the civil and police administration to tame the agitating youth of Kashmir,” DG Youth Service and Sports, Navin Agarwal, in a candid chat with the Kashmir Observer said.

“We immediately started some tournaments in some of the restive places across the valley and we got a good response. This was a kind of corporate social responsibility, CSR, for us and it really helped us to tame the agitating lot - who I believe have real talent that should be spotted well,” he said. After remaining at some of the key positions in the state police department, the Director General, Youth Service and Sports, Navin Agarwal said that job of involving youth from some of the restive areas across the valley was challenging but thrilling too.

Agarwal said he was always a sports buff, who believes the game and sportsmanship could play a vital role in a place like Kashmir. “Coming from police background and then heading a sports department of any state is obviously a challenging task, but I say it is thrilling too for me. In like to engage some real talent,” DG said. “I am someone who believes in delivering the things in a professional manner and I expect the same from my colleagues. I think sports have played a vital role in Kashmir after 2008 agitation, it transformed the mentality of the youth across the valley,” he added.

He said that sports and games are an integral part of state policing and for his parent department; it acted as a “vibrant tool” to tame down the anger of the agitating youth after 2008-2010 agitation in Kashmir. “Police has been doing a pretty good job after 2008 agitation. Sports came as a major tool for us to engage droves of children and agitating youth here, which turned successful for us. Those having stones in their hands were given cricket balls and bats,” he said. For identifying the real talent, the DG said that the more and more events should be held at the grassroots level. “There has to be an element of competition at every level and I think for us as a department we have to start from the grassroots level, which we are trying to do now. So that we get more and more real cream and talent in every sport,” the DG said.

Notably, the Director General Youth Services and Sports Navin Agarwal has served the police department in J&K for the last 27 years continuously in various capacities including SSP Pulwama, SSP Rajouri, SSP Leh, DIG CID, DIG Doda-Udhampur Range, IGP Armed, ADG Security and DG Prisons. Refuting the claims that his department was department was focussing only on ‘few sports activities, the DG said “Many new sports have come up and sometimes traditional sports take a back seat but I would encourage traditional sports too. Some schools sometimes resort to new sports to avoid higher competition. While encouraging new sports I believe traditional sports demand the required patronage which cannot be done away,” he said.

Agarwal said that for the overall development of the sports sector across the state, the government was keen to create some more play fields to attract some local talent here. “we have discussed it threadbare that the all the high and higher secondary school should have their own playground and wherein they are not existing we have plan to develop them and this year we will be covering all the high and higher secondary schools even in remote areas,” he said. He said that the Physical Education is picking up in the Jammu and Kashmir as government has achieved success in various pilot projects that acted as an inspiring agent. “Some of our young lot and some noted players in every sport have played a great role in making the department go abuzz with activities. We must give due credit for their commitment and passion for becoming the brand ambassadors of the games here,” he said. Stating that even after Physical Education has become a popular field, a lot more was needed on the ground as there are still number of posts that are lying vacant.

“Physical Education is becoming a very popular subject and most of the Higher Secondary Schools want this subject to be taught in their schools. A number of posts of lecturers are lying vacant and which were to be recruited through direct recruitment soon,” he said. “We have referred some of these posts to Public Service Commission for filling up,” he said, adding. “In Promotion Quota they have been promoted (those who were internal candidates) and 50 per cent which were to be appointed via Direct Recruitment have been referred as per rules.”

He said that the coaching was a very important for training sportsmen especially for the budding talent. “We do not have proper coaches in our department and some of our masters are NIS trained coaches and we utilize their services but we will soon have proper coaching camps in all the zones and district levels,” he said.

‘J-K LACKS SPORTS INFRASTRUCTURE’

Admitting that there was an utter lack of sports infrastructure across the state, the DG said “we need to be connected to the ground and develop our play fields and maintain the high standard sports infrastructure here.” “Why we couldn’t hold any major international is because of our own faults. The state lack sin the sports infrastructure, but we need to deeply focus on all these things first,”Agarwal said. “There is growing trend among youngsters here now who want to make their career in the sports too, so we have to be prepared for all these things. If toiling hard gets them disappointment, their passion will die down and we cannot get the real talented spotted,” he added.

‘KASHMIR NEEDS SPORTS CULTURE’

The DG YSS said that Jammu and Kashmir is in a dire need of wave of sports culture, where the people will find it a viable profession. He said even after Kashmir has a mushrooming of young talent at all levels, however the culture of sports was not prevalent. “All the schools, colleges, and other organisations can play a vibrant role in making shaping the sports culture in the state,” he said. “I think it is true to large extent because in the elite schools there are more facilities, but for the rural youth we are planning playgrounds in each and every High and Higher secondary schools. In city the sports council have their headquarters and the city youth get benefit of the coaches that these councils have. But our departments of youth services and sports are revamping the sports structure in all the rural areas of country.

‘NEW SPORTS POLICIES’

Admitting the Jammu and Kashmir’s sports arena gets marred with having no sports policy in place. “We are in badly in need of a sports policy here in this state. We know we have a lot of talent but that talent has to be nurtured a definite programme,” he said. Asked, whether any ground work was done for the having sports policy, he said, “we have had meetings in this regard, and we will soon announce it for the review in general public.” Notably, the Director General YSS, Navin Agarwal has served the police department in J&K for the last 27 years continuously in various capacities including SSP Pulwama, SSP Rajouri, SSP Leh, DIG CID, DIG Doda-Udhampur Range, IGP Armed, ADG Security and DG Prisons. “His persona has been a source of encouragement for various sports activities for police personnel and several youth development programmes across the state,”In-charge press publicity YSS, Azhar Hajini said.

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