Volleyball makes inroads in Kashmir as youth turn to ‘safer’-sport in Ramadan

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It is no secret that football and cricket are the two most followed and played sport in Kashmir, but with Ramadan going on people have turned to a lesser fancied game Volleyball to keep themselves fit.

With temperatures well over 30 degree Celsius and duration of fasting around 16 hours, it is difficult for youth to play football or cricket-both energy sapping sports. In their bid to keep fit, youth have resorted to playing volleyball that doesn’t require high energy levels. With the result, playing Volleyball in the Ramadan becomes feasible. 

With no cricket and football going on, Kashmir has been gripped with Volleyball fever, more so in rural Kashmir.

Riyaz Ahmad Bhat-from South Kashmir’s Tral- is one of the many who shunned their favourite sport (cricket in his case) to opt for Volleyball this Ramadan. A government employee, Bhat makes his way to a local village volleyball court to practice his new passion. Another 15 to 16 boys join him daily after Asar prayers who segregate into two teams before they retire for a day with 15-20 minutes to go for Iftaar.

“Most of us play cricket regularly, but it is difficult to play the sport in this heat with temprature hovering well over 30 degree Celsius and holy month of Ramadan going.   Volleyball doesn’t need high energy levels as required in cricket. It is a safe sport to play as we don’t tire much. It doesn’t consume much time either which makes it a suitable sport between Asar and Iftaar. We can play volleyball without disturbing our fasting,” Bhat told Kashmir Observer.

One could witness volleyball courts carved out in playgrounds-otherwise hub of football and cricket- with youth showing a great interest in the sport.

 “As this is a Muslim dominated region, so we make sure we don’t have to compromise with fasting. In that regard, volleyball is the best option in Ramadan. That is one of the main factors that made us to play volleyball to keep us fit,” says Bhat.

Muneer Alam, Kashmir renowned Volleyball coach, says there are many factors that lure youth towards the sport in Ramadan. 

“There are lots of reasons why people play volleyball in Ramadan. The duration of the sport isn’t that long and we can change it according to our requirements. Tempo of the game can be managed. It doesn’t require big field. Dimensions of the volleyball courts are such that we need a small piece of land to come up with one. Some people make sure they construct courts under the shade of trees so that they don’t sweat much in Ramadan,” says Muneer saying that volleyball should be summer sport in Kashmir. 

With Volleyball ruling the roost in Ramadan, the admirers of the sport would hope it makes inroads to match popularity and following of cricket and football in years to come.

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