Resting on the laps of the Himalayas, Kashmir is not only famous for its perennial rivers and snowcapped mountains but also for the sportspersons that have emerged out of the valley. A place with a myriad of talent, the valley is not confined to cricket. From basketball to rugby the union territory is filled with talented sportspersons representing India internationally.
Here is a list of some finest sportspersons that the valley has produced:
Bilal Ahmad Dar
Not having a morsel of food for eight days compelled Dar’s mother to sell off a piece of land and some poplar trees to buy a cycle for him.
A resident of Kawoosa village in Budgam district, the teenager is the first cyclist from Kashmir to represent India internationally. He has won silver and bronze medal in 3 km individual pursuit and 4 km team pursuit respectively at Asian Junior Championships held in Jakarta in 2019.
Dar was the first cyclist to be selected through trials in Jammu & Kashmir. Being a hilly area, cycling is not popular in the valley. He was motivated by his father and villagers to take up the sport.
He became the first cyclist in India to win four gold medals at the National School Games. He was applauded for his achievement by the former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and cricketer V. V. S. Laxman on social media.
The cyclist has been training in Delhi for the past five years. After participating in the Asian Cup and Asian Championship, he aspires to represent India in the Olympics.
A gold medalist at the World Kick Boxing Championship in Argentina 2018, Aabid Hamid was the lone gold winner for India. He represented India in Wushu at Moscow Wushu Stars 2017 in Russia.
Hamid hails from Budgma district of Srinagar. Belonging to a humble background, the gold medalist was spotted by the Indian Army when he joined Army Goodwill School and they decided to invest in him after seeing his potential.
Hamid got recognition when he won a gold medal at the state level (2017) and national level (2018). Owing to his achievement in the nationals, he made his entry to the World Championships.
Soon to be documented in a movie, the Kashmiri girl broke all stereotypes in the valley and emerged as the first female footballer from the union territory. Afshan Ashiq was a sportsperson since childhood. She used to play cricket before venturing into football.
Ashiq played as a goalkeeper for Premier India Football Academy (PIF) team in Mumbai. The keeper was playing for FC Kolhapur city (2019) in the third edition of the Indian Women’s League.
She had to face a lot of trouble when back in December 2017 her photo of stone-pelting went viral on social media.
The footballer is currently pursuing her career in Mumbai. She also runs a club called Unique Football Girls in Srinagar, where she used to train the girls before pursuing her career outside the valley.
Gul Mustafa Dev
Gul Mustafa Dev is accredited to be India’s first winter Olympian in 1988 Winter Olympics held at Calgary Canada.
Initially, Dev went to Gulmarg through the department of Youth Services and Sports J & K for a basic course on skiing. Afterward he pursued an intermediate and advanced level of skiing course.
The skier won a gold medal in the National skiing competition held in 1986. After his successful performance in the event, the Winter Games Federation of India (WGFI) selected him as a member of the Indian squad to play at the first Asian Winter Games in Sapporo, Japan.
Dev is passing the skills to her daughter Malaikah Gul Dev who has won a gold medal in Annual women’s Alpine Skiing 2018, advanced level dream programmed in Seoul, South Korea.
Popularly known as ‘Baramulla’s supergirl’, Iqra Rasool is an inspiration to many Kashmiri girls who want to pursue sports as a career.
Hailing from Dangiwacha, Rafiabad located in North Kashmir, the bowler has represented Jammu & Kashmir in the U-19 and U-23 category.
Rasool was honored with the ‘H.E.R’ (Hope. Empower. Rise) award in 2017 at a session in Mumbai by Mithali Raj, captain of the Indian Women’s cricket team. H.E.R awards are conferred to a sportsperson who has “shown remarkable excellence in their areas and have often taken risks, battled odds or rewrite the rules in pursuit of success.”
An ardent fan of Indian Men’s cricket team captain Virat Kohli, Rasool wants to represent India in the International arena.
Tajamul Aslam achieved a landmark in 2016 for India by winning a gold medal in the under-8 category of World Kickboxing Championship in Italy. The young girl defeated her rival from the United States to become the world champion.
Apart from Kick Boxing, Aslam also excels in Wushu and Taekwondo. She started kickboxing in 2014 when she joined a local academy, which trains young boys and girls in martial arts.
Belonging to a humble family where her father, Ghulam Mohammad Lone, is a driver for a construction company, she was always motivated by her family to accomplish her dreams.
A former Indian football player, Mehrajuddin Wadoo is currently an assistant coach of the Hyderabad FC. He started playing at a tender of age of eight under supervision of his father Mohammad Sultan Wadoo who had played Santosh trophy
Mehrajuddin has been associated with various clubs like Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Salgaocar, Pune City, Chennaiyin, and Mumbai City during his stint as a football player. He has also represented the Indian National Team from 2005 to 2011.
The footballer won the Federation Cup & IFA Shield four times. He was the best right-back in the Hero ISL during Season 2 as he helped Chennaiyin FC to the coveted Hero ISL trophy, appearing 14 times for the team.
The “never settle” attitude of Ishrat Rashid has made her the first Kashmiri specially-abled Basketball player who got selected in International Wheelchair Basketball Tournament.
Rashid injured her spinal cord in an accident in 2016 due to which she was bedridden for eight months. The basketball player was introduced to wheelchair basketball while she was in the Voluntary Medicare Society in Srinagar.
She participated in a national event in Tamil Nadu followed by another event at Mohali in Chandigarh. Impressed by her performance she was selected to represent India in the Asia-Oceania Wheelchair Basketball Championship in Thailand.
She was awarded for her achievements by Srinagar District Administration during the Republic Day Celebration.
Saqlain Tariq was selected to lead the Indian team in the 10th Youth Asian Championship 2018 in Colombo. The first volleyball player from Kashmir to be part of the Indian team, Tariq was also a part of the senior men’s Indian team which took part in the Asian Games in Jakarta.
The spiker was a lone player picked to play in the Pro Volleyball League from Kashmir. He was bought by U Mumba Volley team for a base price of Rs. 1.10 lakh.
Hailing from Poonch, a remote district in Kashmir, volleyball runs in Tariq’s family. His father Mohammed Tariq is a physical education teacher and a volleyball coach.
Saqlain moved to Punjab by his when he was in the sixth standard family to pursue his career in sports.
Irtiqa Ayoub started playing rugby when she was 16-years-old and since then the bond is unbreakable. A resident of Safakadal in Srinagar, Ayoub had won seven gold medals at the state level, and seven at the district level. She won a silver medal for Rugby 7’s in 2016 and 2017, and a gold medal for snow Rugby in 2017.
Claimed to be the youngest Rugby Development Officer, the rugby player has coached hundreds of schools and college kids and aspire to play for India one day.
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