Indian cricket stalwart Mahendra Singh Dhoni today advised the youth of Jammu and Kashmir to take up to sports and give their hundred per cent to perform consistently well. “As far as sports is concerned, it is important to have a platform, but after that the players have to work really hard. Our country is huge and many people play cricket. The aim should be to represent the country for which you have to consistently perform at first class level,” Dhoni said. Dhoni was the chief guest at the final match of Chinar Cricket Premier League, organised by Srinagar-based Chinar Corps of the Army. “Even if there are not such facilities here, but when we were playing it was not that we had many facilities,” he said when asked about the lack of infrastructure in the state. He said the youth in the state should also pay attention to education. “Not only sports, education is also very important because if you see (in) Kashmir, tourism is one of the main things and if there is unrest, then tourists do not come here. “Education is important and having infrastructure is a must so that people study here and then can apply for jobs outside as well. At the end of the day, a person wants to do well with his life and for his family,” he said.
The former India captain, who now play only in the limited overs format of the game, expressed hope that more players from the state will represent the country in future. “There will be players (to represent India) from here in future. There are players here who will play many matches. In IPL, the combination is also seen in a way which team needs what type of combination and accordingly the team is formed. What is important is players give more than 100 per cent and perform well,” he said.
Dhoni appealed the youth to cooperate with the army to take Kashmir on the way forward towards development. “Army is trying its best to do what it can, trying to guide and create infrastructure to the extent it can. For that it is important to support each other. “If there is good infrastructure, youth will associate with it and when there is educational infrastructure, then Kashmir’s development will take place. Industries should be set up here so that there is creation of jobs. The focus should not only be on apple farming and tourism but other sectors as well,” he said. Dhoni also experienced his immense popularity here as a crowd of excited youth tried to catch a glimpse of him at this hitherto unknown remote village, 35 kms from Srinagar.
As Dhoni stepped into Kunzer cricket ground, in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, frenzied fans jostled with each other to catch a glimpse of him. The fans tried to take selfies with the cricketer who was donning army uniform as he holds the honorary rank of a Lieutenant Colonel. While the security forces restricted the fans from going near Dhoni, he politely obliged to autograph requests on pieces of paper, bats and even the belts of some over excited security forces personnel. The excitement was such that many youth made their way into the ground through VIP gate. “I would like to thank the cricket fans here and I appreciate the love they showered on me. I have come here after a long time. While I was watching the match, it reminded me of those old days when we used to play on a mat and the same atmosphere prevailed on the ground. It felt good to see the enthusiasm among the players here. I wish to return here with my family as it is a very beautiful place,” he said.