A last minute back-out from state officials left a budding skier’s future in a limbo. Aabid Hussain tells his story
Ehtisham Fayaz Khan, 20, was heartbroken when Sports Council and Tourism Department refused his sponsorship request for a sports event in Philippines.
A national level snow skier, Khan has participated in events held at Kashmir, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and those held by Indian Institute of Skiing and Mountaineering (IISM).
Khan who has participated in cycling events has a bronze medal in artificial rock climbing. “I also love trekking, camping and mountaineering,” said Khan.
“I started participating in sports events when I was 9,” says Khan. “I was inspired to become a professional skier after watching it on television.”
It was then Khan started visiting Gulmarg, to practice his skiing skills. In 2005, Khan joined the Indian Institute of Skiing and Mountaineering (IISM). “I got 3rd position there,” said Khan. “I got 3rd position in artificial rock climbing event too.”
When Khan realized that skiing is a seasonal game only, he started practising cycling and running. “Since last two years I am trying to hone my swimming skills too,” said Khan.
Last year Khan ran along Australian ultralmarathon runner Pat Farmer in his last leg tour from Banihal to Nishat. “Only I and another athlete Tanveer could complete 107 kms with him,” said Khan.
In March 2017, Khan heard about BPI Tri Athlon, a combination of three cycling, running and swimming, which was to be held in the Philippines in April. “I sent my resume and they invited me for participation,” said Khan. “That time I was in the middle of a national level event which I quit participating in the Philippines.”
Khan was sure that government will sponsor his trip as an athlete. “I had pinned my hopes on Sports Council and Tourism Department, but both refused at the eleventh hour.”
Khan had even prepared a short speech which he wanted to deliver in the Philippines while representing Kashmir. “I was heartbroken with government’s indifferent approach towards sportspersons like me,” said Khan who is currently preparing for JEE. “At the same time, I am preparing myself for next year’s events in the Philippines.”
Khan laments that there is limited scope for sportsperson in Kashmir. “Local sports bodies hardly care about any positive intervention,” said Khan. “They just promote talent on papers only. In reality, they are the ones who pull you down.”
Khan is dependent on his father for funds to sustain as an athlete. “But my father cannot afford to bear expenses for international events.”
Khan, a resident of Hyderpora, Srinagar, is hopeful that he will soon prove his worth as an athlete. “I reached this stage with my father’s help, but what about those who don’t have even this much.”