J&K Sports Council secretary Nuzhat Gull: The people's champion

Gull's initiatives have attracted more children to sports

27-Nuzhat-Gull Nuzhat Gull | Salil Bera


Nuzhat Gull, Secretary, J&K Sports Council

THE FIRST FEMALE sports secretary of J&K, Nuzhat Gull is known for her golf skills, but she does not allow the elite sport to overshadow her enthusiasm for other games. She says she is more proud about throwing open stadiums at night for children in Srinagar and for taking the Khelo India programme to terror-ravaged districts than about the national and international medals won by sportspersons from Kashmir.

Today, Kashmir is playing like never before in its parks, playgrounds and stadiums, moving away from the cycle of violence and drugs. For a state that lacks proper internet facilities and cinema halls or a mall culture, sports is the best recreation option. “Even if we create the best infrastructure, the initiative would not be successful until our children come out to play,’’ says Gull. She started by connecting with the mohalla and masjid communities with basic steps like offering them neon lights, generators and refreshments alongside.

“There was a time when government officials were scorned upon. Today children take selfies with us and they play cricket and football wearing Indian colours. Isn’t that change?’’ asks Gull. Kashmir is exceptionally proud of its achievers like Sarita Adhana and Rakesh Kumar who won India’s first gold at the para archery world championship held in the Czech Republic in July and the Wushu contingent that won gold in Moscow Stars Championships in May.

Gull's initiatives have attracted more children to sports. On a visit to stadiums in Kashmir, especially at night, one might find Gull cheering, clicking pictures and motivating elders and youngsters alike. “The engagement of women in outdoor sporting activities like football, wearing the hijab, is a huge achievement,” she says.