Canoeing for medals,J&K girls dream of govt jobs

Most of the participants played the game of canoe polo for the first time during the national championship held at a rather unusual venue.

Written by Geeta Gupta | New Delhi | Published: May 4, 2012 1:54:50 am

Most of the participants played the game of canoe polo for the first time during the national championship held at a rather unusual venue. When Delhi Tourism hosted the event on Thursday,a little-known Prasad Nagar Lake in Rajendra Nagar area was dotted with red and yellow canoes,a water sport played for the first time in India.

Saima Manzoor,a 21-year-old playing for the Jammu and Kashmir girls’ team,has been canoeing and kayaking since she was in Class VIII. Manzoor has won her state one gold,three silver,and two bronze medals in various national championships like that of dragon boating,rafting and kayaking.

“The fact that we get so many medals would definitely get me a government job. And that’s what we are looking forward to. Our government has a quota of 25 jobs for talented people who get medals for the state. It is a different matter that our poor association does not even have a single boat,” said Manzoor,a final year student.

Canoe polo involves two teams of eight players each,with five on water at a time. The objective is simply to score the maximum number of goals. League matches and semi-finals of the first-ever canoe polo national championship were held on Thursday,while the finals will be held on Friday. The Indian Kayaking and Canoeing Association is also going to host the Asian Championship in Mumbai this year.

“But we do not have the required resources,and there is no support from the government,so dates are not finalised yet. Today’s event was scheduled to be held at the Talkatora Stadium swimming pool,which has become more commercial now. Then the tourism department chose Prasad Nagar Lake. It is fine,but the water is very dirty,” said Omar Rafiq,vice president of the Indian Kayaking and Canoeing Association.

And if that is the story of the sport itself,the venue has a tale of its own. Dying of government apathy over the years,the tourism department chose it for the event as the first step towards reviving the water body.

While inaugurating the event,Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit promised to provide sufficient funds to promote water sports in Delhi,including landscaping and maintenance of water bodies like the Prasad Nagar Lake.

Teams from ten Indian states participated in Thursday’s event — Punjab,Chattisgarh,Karnataka,Haryana,J&K,Jharkhand,Delhi,Madhya Pradesh — and also teams from the BSF,and other paramilitary forces. Union Sports Minister Ajay Maken will be the chief guest for the final match and closing ceremony on Friday.

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