Save Stadiums Save Youth

Danish Aafaqi
Cricket is a magnificent game and the people of Kashmir hold cricket with utmost reverence. Even though the Valley is going through an unprecedented traumatic situation but still cricket never stops here. The youth of the Valley are subject to immense stress. This brings cricket in place and, apparently, cricket works like an elixir for these depressing souls.
There are many historical cricket grounds in the valley. One of them is the Singhpora Cricket Ground. The locals who spoke to me said that the Sports Authorities of the UT have decided to renovate two major cricket grounds of North Kashmir and curate these grounds with Astro turfs. These grounds are one each in Singhpora Baramulla and Bandipora. This means that there will be formal stadiums built here and the reach of locals in these stadiums will be limited. Besides that the grounds which are, otherwise, providing space for three major sports will be entirely dedicated towards hockey only. This decision is a mockery to the sports fraternity of the areas.
 I have been watching cricket matches in Singhpora for a very long time now. This stadium holds a huge repute among budding and experienced cricketers of North Kashmir. This gorgeous piece of land with a magnificent outfield has produced some of the most famous cricketers of the valley. Babloo Singh, Jahangir Bakshi, Jahangir lone, Xubair Ahmad , Zahoor Lone, Arif Khan, Majid etc. These players have gone on to play at the highest levels of cricket within state and some of them have even served this gentleman’s game of cricket outside as well. The names given above are just few of the numerous players who have been nurtured on the wicket of Singhpora Cricket Ground.
We have seen cricketers flocking to the stadium from all across the state. This cricket ground undoubtedly has to be one of the famous cricket grounds in entire North Kashmi. The same goes with the Bandipora Cricket Ground as well. The value, repute, respect, charm, and importance that these two cricket grounds hold in the hearts of the cricket fraternity of North Kashmir is absolutely unprecedented and unmatched.
“The construction of a hockey stadium will not only make the experienced cricketers feel disgruntled but it will also be a reason for the massacre of the aspirations of the budding cricketers of the area,” said Zubair Dar, the General Secretary of District Baramulla Cricket Forum.
 It is understood that there is a need of Astro turf for hockey and this would help the budding hockey players of Singhpora and nearby areas to grow. But that does not mean that the other major sports including cricket, football and volleyball would be sacrificed. It is worth mentioning here that once the new turf is curated there will be doors built and security enforced at those doors outside these stadiums. This will limit the entry of locals and bring an end to an impeccable journey of cricket in these stadiums.
There is a need that this proposal must be reversed or, at least, shifted to an alternate venue. Singhpora Cricket Ground has enough space around it and it can easily accommodate a Hockey stadium along its boundaries. This will not only allow the continuation of its cricket journey but will also nourish the new hockey talents of the area. It is worth mentioning here that these grounds don’t come under any sports authority of the Valley. Both of them are taken care of by the locals and they belong to them only. The local residents have no issues with hockey stadiums but they want these stadiums to be shifted to an alternate place. It is in the interest of locals that these cricket grounds be left for them only without being interfered by any higher sports authority.