Dateline Shangri-La of Happiness: Kashmiri Sqay Players Continue to Bring Laurels

Riyaz Ul Khaliq

SRINAGAR

Tri Nation Sqya Champiosnhip Bhutan
The Sqay Champions from Kashmir in Thimpu with their medals.

The young lot from Kashmir continue to bring laurels to the Himalyan state and this time sports players from valley won appreciation at the just concluded ‘Tri-Nation Sqay International Championship’ held in Dragon’s land locked state of Bhutan.

‘Sqay’, a type of martial art, is a South Asian created by the Kashmiri people of the former state of Kashmir. Practiced mainly in Pakistan administered Kashmir and this side of LoC. ‘Armed Sqay’ makes use of a curved single-edge sword paired with a shield, while unarmed techniques incorporate kicks, punches, locks and chops. It has three categories: Sub-Junior, Junior, and Senior.

Tri Nation Sqya Champiosnhip

A group of 40 enthusiastic youth from Kashmir flied to Jammu on January 28 wherefrom they reached Delhi next morning. They reached Hasimara district of West Bengal by train on 31 Jan and stayed in Jaigaon city for the night where from they entered Dragon’s land-Bhutan.

“We reached Thimpu, the capital city of land locked Bhutan in the evening of February first,” Ahsan Ul Haq Bodha, one of the participating players said.

The group which included nine girls had participants from Shopian, Srinagar, Islamabad, Pulwama and Budgam.

Tri Nation Sqya Champiosnhip 1
Ayan Ali and Suzain Zahoor with their medals.

The youngest ones, who are class second and third students, included Ayan Ali and Suzain Zahoor, both from Shopian, won Gold medals.

Ahsan, who also trains his juniors now, said that they competed with over 150 participants from Bhutan. Reports reaching here said that Nepal, which is third participating nation in the annual championship, could not come this year. Ahsan himself is a Black Belt Low Weight trained player.

The King's Palace Thimpu, Bhutan. (Courtesy: Daniel Valla through internet)
The King’s Palace Thimpu, Bhutan. (Courtesy: Daniel Valla Photography through internet)

The group won 11 gold, and 14 silver medals this year. In 2015, Ahsan informed, the fourteen players from Kashmir won 4 gold and 5 silver medals. The event was held at Youth Development Fund Stadium in Thimpu.

The game, Ahsan told Kashmir Life over phone from Jaigaon city, started on February 2nd and medal giving ceremony was held next day in which Bhutan’s top film director and actors participated besides top Martial Arts Master of the Buddhist nation.

“We had a chance to move around Thimpu city,” Ahsan said, “it is a beautiful place much like our own Kashmir.”

The group went around visiting Buddhism Lord Buddha’s statue and King’s Palace in Bhutan which is famous as ‘Shangri-La of Happiness’. The place is very conservative of its culture and traditions.

The enthusiasm of the players which drove them hundreds of miles away from their homes lies in the fact that the players are self-supporting in terms of finances. “Most of the players are given financial assistance by their parents,” Ahsan said, “a few of us have been sometimes sponsored by small time business men.”

Lord Buddha Statue in Thimpu
The statue of Buddhism Lord Buddha in Bhutan’s capital city of Thimpu.

He said that although Shopian has a district level association which grooms young players in the sport, however, there is no support from government, yet. “It was recognised only last year by state’s Ministry of Youth Services and Sports,” he said, “we do everything ourselves.”

Those who won Gold Medals include: Suzain Zahoor Lone, Ayan Ali Lone, Hanzala Ashiq, Tajwer Tariq, Shahid Sofi all from Rainbow International Education Institute Shopian; Faizan Ayoub Khan from Alamdar Institute Pinjura Shopian; and Raja Younis Tak from Oasis Education Institute Shopian.

Silver Medallists: Sufiyan Ayaz from Rainbow International Education Institute Shopian; Faisal Yousuf from Government Degree College Shopian; Jibran Wani from Government Boys Higher Secondary School Shopian; and Zahid Mansoor from University of Kashmir.

The players are scheduled to be back in Valley by ninth of this month.

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