Skaters no more on a roll in J&K

*Commercialism ruins professionalism
Rajesh Dhar
JAMMU, Aug 7: The State of Jammu and Kashmir which is in the process of creating a niche in the field of sports and games, can boast of a very few medal winning sports disciplines that keep its flag high at the National scene.
Apart from Wushu and some other Martial Arts, Roller Skating was one of these medal winning sports disciplines, which is no more in the same league now, courtesy–internal bickering within the members of the Association, unpleasant role of desperate parents and commercial approach of coaches and trainers.
Roller Skating had the reputation of producing international stars and the players who, time and again, emerged champions in the country including Arjun Gandhotra, Mir Daniyal, Divij Balotra, Paras Thakur, Ananya Khajuria and likes, who were always on a roll to bring laurels to the State. However, the situation is altogether different now as the present players are found wanting at the Nationals in terms of winning medals.
The sorry state of affairs is that the state which had the habit of winning good haul of medals in this sports discipline each season, either fails to open an account or wins a medal or two in the national level events including National School Games.
According to the reliable sources, the infighting among the members of the two Associations namely J&K Roller Skating Association, affiliated to Roller Skating Federation of India and J&K Amateur Roller Skating Association, an affiliate unit of Jammu and Kashmir State Sports Council, leave the skaters in the lurch. Why and how is a million dollar question?
On the one hand, because of its affiliation with the Federation, the Jammu and Kashmir Roller Skating Association provides opportunity to the state players to participate in the Nationals, and on the other hand, the J&K State Sports Council do not provide any financial assistance to the participating players as it is Jammu and Kashmir Amateur Roller Skating Association registered with the Council.
Sources said that the infighting between these Associations forces the Council to not to provide financial aid to the players from last over 20 years, adding that instead of bridging the gap between the two factions, few persons associated with other sports are also settling their scores by taking advantage of the happenings and infighting.
Sources further said that in this polluted atmosphere, some so-called coaches and trainers are ruling the roost by monopolising the skating infrastructure and harassing the skaters, adding that they are charging hefty amounts from them on monthly basis and for skating equipment.
“The skaters feel suffocated and disgusted in such a polluted atmosphere. They have no other option than to hone their skills at the only Government skating facility in Jammu, which has to bear the burden of around 150 skaters each day. Favouritism and even nepotism comes into play, thus commercialism ruins professionalism,” sources added.
Expecting better results from the players in such an atmosphere is like flogging a dead horse.
Skating experts believe that the skating rink at MA Stadium is not so standard to bear the burden of a big number of skaters at once, so there is too much of injury risk.
Sources said that after the start of construction work at MA Stadium, the road adjacent to it is no more available for the skaters to fine-tune their skills, so all of them are bound to practice at the rink, adding that there are many skaters who are learnt to be practicing even without proper admissions, because of the nexus between the coaches and the officials.
“Another skating facility at Peerkho in Jammu is merely being used by one faction of the Association just to pick the players for Nationals ‘once in a blue moon’. It is not being used by them for routine practicing. Rather than fighting with one another, the members of the two factions of the Association should unite to promote talent and take initiatives with regard to raising skating infrastructure and making better use of the available facilities,” said a National medallist in skating on the condition of anonymity.
Quoting ‘United we stand, divided we fall’, he said the members of the two factions, the coaches, the parents and the players should leave their personal grudges and avoid vested interests and work for the betterment of the game to get back the lost glory in this sport.
“Talent is still there. But the need is to explore it and provide talented skaters platform to excel. Parents also need not to be so desperate in making allegations and counter allegations. The time is ripe to take a leaf from the books of Gandhotras, Daniyals, Balotras, Thakurs and Khajurias and guide our skaters to win big haul of medals once again,” he expressed.