“Do you know what my favourite part of the game is? The opportunity to play”,
says American football coach Mike Singletary. The statement honors the opportunities given to individuals, who grow up to be successful in different fields. We’d like to add to the statement that any opportunity holds its importance only when people are more responsive towards it. Kashmir is known for its scenic beauty, lush green lands, snow-capped mountains, Pashmina, Art, Culture, Food and of course the extremely talented Kashmiris. The state provides ample opportunities to everyone especially youth of Kashmir to study and work in different fields. While state takes steps towards creating a platform, people have to generate the will to give themselves a chance.
Making a change through Sports
Creating the opportunity to play is one of the most important contributions by the army as it inculcates sports as an essential means to a sustainable life for the young and enthusiastic generation. A few days back, army made an effort to uphold the love for cricket among children by providing them with sports kits. The event took place in the arms of Baramulla and Sangri and is marked memorable by the following T-20 match between two schools.
It is both indoor and outdoor games that help students to assess their talent. A small initiative to organise a carrom board match depicts the presence of strong intellectual capabilities among youngsters at Chinar English Medium School. Children must seek inspiration from ideal like Afshan Ashiq, the captain of J&K Football team, who chose to avoid violence and pursue her passion that ultimately lead her to a better life.
While talking about sports, how can we forget that three girls from Kashmir proved that taking a step ahead can change your life? Manar Mushtaq, Momina Manoor, and Mehsoon Fatima won Taekwondo championship in Macau, China. Their achievement has roared from Macau to the lands of Kashmir that made every single person proud.
Sports have been used to bring a social change over the time. It promotes brotherhood and friendliness among children that help them to identify the chance of making their lives different.
Making a change through Art
Art plays a major role in developing the personality of an individual by bringing hidden thoughts and perspective to the surface. For example, if someone is good at painting, they must take a step ahead and participate in competitions, reach out to more audience, and learn more about it to make it a challenge for others. In fact, multiple workshops and competitions are organised to help children access their hidden talents.
An inter-school painting competition was organised at Youth Centre in Lunahare, Kupwara; about 123 students from 15 different schools participated in it. On the other hand, to improve the competitive spirits of students, a cultural programme was organised in Krusan. And as the list goes on, these initiatives are triggers to the availability of opportunity and one should explore and grab them to take their art forward.
Making a difference altogether
Mere heedfulness in producing opportunity is not enough, it is rather more important to address them. It is through the availability of education, regular guest lectures, and goods distribution that state stretches a helpful hand to the people while supporting them with regular medical facilities. People have to give the priority to education and development over misguidance and exploits.
Recently an interactive session on Health Education was organised for the students of Government High School, tutoring them on the importance of cleanliness and suggesting precautions for preventing diseases. In Bandzu, Pulwama, army distributed medicines to people of all age groups and conducted a health check-up. Also, to inspire students to involve more in education and sports, a wheelchair was gifted to the differently-abled girl and sports kits were distributed to students in Radbouga.
The J&K government recently launched a weekly cultural festival at Dal Lake called “Culture of Cruise”. It brings writers, musicians, poets and academics together that serve as a wide source to explore beyond geographies.
With firm beliefs and effective methods, state has been able to promote a better future for the population of Kashmir. It is time that their actions are given a response and more people step forward to make a change in their life. Kashmir is a land that gave birth to Sufism and taught us to bring everyone together using pillars of Insaniyat (Humanity) and Kashmiriyat (Spirit of Kashmir).
New Age Kashmir focuses on the opportunities that are available for people at different platforms and evoke a sense of development by creating an awareness about them. For a progressive Kashmir, we Kashmiri have to take steps forward to grab opportunities for our own good. The motive is to guide the youth to take action when given a chance because there is never a next time.
Nothing is more satisfying to see our own Kashmir people reaching to the heights in every field especially the sports.
Did you know that India’s No 1 tennis star, right now, is none other than a Kashmiri Pandit girl, Ankita Raina? Yes, you read it right!
Raina is ranked number one in Women’s Single rankings in India. Don’t get confused! (Sania Mirza was ranked No. 1 in the women’s doubles rankings). Besides, Raina has won six singles and seven doubles titles on the ITF tour in her career.
Young Ankita Raina, a Kashmiri Pandit who has lived in Gujarat since 2007, has become the third Indian woman tennis player to make it to the top-200 rankings in singles.
The new poster girl of Indian Tennis!!👍
Congrats and best compliments to our Pulwama girl ANKITA RAINA who is current Indian no. 1 in women’s singles ranker and only 3rd Indian woman tennis player to breach Top-200 rankings.👏👏@ankita_champ @MirzaSania @Maheshbhupathi @Leander pic.twitter.com/QM2PTGQY2y
— New Age Kashmir (@newagekashmir) 17 April 2018
Aged only 25, Ankita has reached 197 ranking in the World Tennis Association (WTA) chart on April 9, 2018.
Previously, this record was held by only two Indian female tennis players – Sania Mirza and Nirupama Vaidyanathan. Tennis star Sania Mirza had reached rank 27 in singles in year 2007 and Nirupama’s rank was 134 in the year 1997.
— Anupam Kher (@AnupamPKher) 28 April 2018
Great Young Achiever from Kashmir, Pulwama
The ace tennis star belongs to South Kashmir’s Tral town in Pulwama district. Her father is from Pinglish village while mother belongs to Drussu village.
Born on 11 January 1993 in Jammu; Raina’s family migrated from Kashmir to Jammu and then to Gujarat, Ahmedabad, where they settled in 2007.
A very talented and promising tennis player; Ankita was introduced to the sport at a young tender age of four. She credits it to her mother, Mrs. Lalita Raina, who herself was a table tennis player and college level athlete in her times.
Ankita Raina is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree at Brihan Maharashtra College of Commerce in Pune. Besides, she is employed with the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC).
The most effective way to do it, is to do it. Congrats and best compliments to our Pulwama girl #ANKITA RAINA for becoming new poster girl of Indian Tennis. She became only 3rd Indian woman tennis player to breach Top-200 rankings. More power to you girl. Keep rocking! https://t.co/c8iyNTzMSq
— Waheed Para (@parawahid) 15 April 2018
The Turning Point
Despite being ranked number one in India, Raina was unable to get the required funding. The turning point in her career came when Prime Minister Narendra Modi (the then Chief Minister of Gujarat) stepped in to ensure that the necessary funding is provided so that she could focus on the game. Since then, Raina has been sponsored by the Sports Authority of Gujarat under the Shaktidhoot scheme.
Thank you sir @narendramodi for believing in a little girl’s dream way back in October 2013 and supporting me in pursuit of my dreams. On my May 22nd I’ll be playing my first Grand Slam ever. #gratitude #firstgrandslamever #dreamcometrue #jaihind pic.twitter.com/gJAhjjSL5l
— Ankita Raina (@ankita_champ) 4 May 2018
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) 6 May 2018
Target Olympic Podium!
Being India’s top-ranking female player; Ankita Raina has now been included in the Government’s Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS).
“I am happy to be in the TOP scheme and would like to thank SAI, AITA, and SAG for all their support. My best performances have always come when playing for the country and I will definitely not fall short of giving my best effort to achieve my aim,” Ankita said.
And here is the 8th athlete who has been added to the TOPS pool.
Wishing you all the best for your future endeavours, Ankita!
Hope you continue making the nation proud.
Many congratulations @ankita_champ ! #TOPSAthlete #SAI pic.twitter.com/LGVxiLdiZA
— SAIMedia (@Media_SAI) 28 April 2018
The Future Ahead!
Raina has gained an entry into the main draw of the 2018 French Open at Roland Garros after being included in the list of qualifiers released recently by the WTA. Calling it a childhood dream, Raina said, “I think words don’t do justice to feelings. My dream has come true, it’s been my dream since I was little. I always used to watch the Grand Slams on the TV and Serena Williams playing and used to ask when will I play there.”
Hats Off to the Undying Spirit of the Kashmiris
Raina has become the first Kashmiri Pandit woman who has been able to make a mark in the field of sports at an international level, that too at such a young age.
Here is wishing the pride of Kashmir, Ankita Raina, all the best for her bright future! Her story will serve as a source of inspiration for the youth of Jammu and Kashmir to pursue their dreams; no matter what the vagaries of life are!