Players of Ice Hockey from the Chiktan block of Kargil district in Ladakh have exceptional talent and just need right opportunity to show their mettle and make the nation proud.
They say that they are not shy of working hard but they also need the right training and good equipment. Ice Hockey player Zaira Akhtar said that this year, only three to four players participated in the Ice Hockey tournament while in previous years, girls did not even get this much support from the system.
When Khelo India Games was started in Kargil then it offered opportunities for girls to play and sportspersons from many other blocks came to Kargil to play. Earlier, girls did not know much about the sport but slowly, they learned about the game, Zaira told ANI.
She further told that Ice Hockey’s history in India could be traced to Chiktan block. In 1978, the first team to play the sport was a team of boys. The girls started to play the sport from 2005. In 2006, girls played at the national level and Kargil team for the sport also had players from Leh.
Zaira said that Kargil players get less support than players from Leh. She said that sponsorships and equipment are very much needed to encourage the players of the region.
Saira Bano, one of the other players from Chiktan, told that her participation in the tournament started last year. She said that earlier, the system didn’t support girls but now, they get support from their home and people of the area.
Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, Member of Parliament (Bharatiya Janata Party) from Ladakh, also said that earlier governments did not extend their support to the Ice Hockey players but now many Ladakhi players play for the national team.
He said that many people from villages in the region are playing Ice Hockey inspired by the idea of women empowerment. ‘Beti khelao’ can also be included in the slogan coined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of ‘Beti bachao, Beti padhao’ to address gender equity, he said.