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Posted at: Jul 16, 2017, 12:14 AM; last updated: Jul 16, 2017, 12:14 AM (IST)

Girls in Ladakh overcome obstacles, scale new heights

Arteev Sharma in Jammu
Girls in Ladakh overcome obstacles, scale new heights
The ice hockey team of Ladakh. Team members say the facilities are inadequate.
Away from Kashmir’s spiral of violence, the country’s cold desert Ladakh has silently nurtured big dreams. Youngsters have challenged the area’s remoteness, hostile weather, limited resources and government indifference. Some of them have not only brought laurels for J&K, but also represented the country at the global level. Recently, Ladakhi youths, especially girls, excelled in three different fields of sports — wushu, ice hockey and mountaineering. 

T. Angmo (27) dreamed of being an international wushu player, in her small village Saboo, off Leh. She achieved her goal when she represented India in international wushu tourney at Armenia in Europe and won a silver medal. Her journey to Armenia was full of challenges. 

Her parents did not have money to spare. She shifted to Jammu for pursuing studies. With interest in judo, she went for training there and represented J&K at the national level in 2006. While in Delhi, she developed interest in wushu. “I played my first international event in Hong Kong. But the event was not recognised by the government. At that time, I realised I could build my career in wushu, but money was a constraint. Then I got sponsorship from a French organisation. Later, I joined Lakshmi Bai Wushu Academy, Delhi, under Delhi Amateur Wushu Association and represented Delhi at the national level,” says Angmo.

She says youth in Ladakh have a great potential in sports, they don’t have the exposure. “I was lucky that I got sponsorship. Now, I have been appointed as in-charge, J&K Sports Council, Leh, on the basis of my performance at the global level,” she says.

In ice hockey, girls from Ladakh represented India at the international level and stood fourth in Ice Hockey Challenge Cup of Asia recently held in Thailand. Seven countries — Malaysia, Thailand, the UAE, Philippine, New Zealand, Singapore, and India — participated. 

Kunay Haldu, assistant captain of the team, is daughter of a driver in the deputy commissioner’s office. She honed her skills through her brother in the Army. She works as a trainer at Delhi Public School (DPS) Leh. 

“There is no help from the government in Leh. For two decades the sportspersons kept demanding a roller skating rink, but the authorities always cited shortage of funds. This time, we collected around Rs 25 lakh through crowd funding,” she says. In 2016, the team ended up last in the tally, but improved their performance this year. 

Ladakh has the Karzoo Ice Hockey Rink in Leh, an irrigation pond in the summer located at 11,500 feet (3,484 m). It is the world’s highest natural ice hockey rink. While ice hockey is an indoor sport in most parts of the world, in Leh, December-January is the only time when it can be seriously pursued in the region. 

Ladakh girls, too, have come forward. Last year four of them scaled Mount Everest. They were part of an NCC cadet girls’ contingent of 10 members that scaled the highest peak on May 22. It was the first time in the history of the state that four young girls from the NCC scaled the summit. 

“It was a proud moment for all Ladakhi people. Our young generation can achieve more if we are given better facilities,” says Tsering Angmo, team member.

Gyal P Wangyal, Leh Councillor and member of J&K Sports Council, agrees that facilities are inadequate. “Some sports projects under the Central schemes are stopped due to paucity of funds. Earlier, there was no sub-office of Sports Council which is now ready. It will help us in streamlining the sports activities in the region,” he said.

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