Sports for Connecting Communities

Introduction

The people of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir continue to live with an uncertain future for over 66 years and are affected by a prolonged conflict created through competing territorial claims of two neighbouring countries viz. India and Pakistan.

There are strong barriers in place that prevent movement towards meaningful conflict transformation, sustainable peace and development, and a range of stakeholders both within India and Pakistan try to prevent change that dilutes their control in any manner. However, in recent past there are some positive developments such as limited access to travel and trade across Line of Control (LOC) and establishment of Joint Chamber of Commerce Industry that suggests some willingness on both sides (India and Pakistan) to take small incremental steps to alleviate sufferings of Kashmiris living across the dividing line.

 This limited space offers an opportunity for the people of all regions within Jammu and Kashmir to come up with some indigenous and innovative initiatives to raise their game and compliment the on-going Indo-Pak peace process over Kashmir by:

 · Creating further opportunities to broaden space for enhancing people to people contact and;

· Establishing strong local networks to empower Kashmiri voices to influence change.

 Sports - a beacon of hope

Sport is widely recognised as a ‘beacon of hope’ for peacebuilding and development efforts throughout the world. It is seen as a tool for conflict prevention, peacebulding and development by UN agencies. “Sport as a universal language can be a powerful tool to promote peace, tolerance and understanding by bringing people together across boundaries, cultures and religions”, UNOSDP (2013). For details see, https://www.un.org/wcm/content/site/sport/peace.

Sports in general and ‘Cricket diplomacy’ is particular has been used twice (1987 and 2003) to reduce tensions and resume contact at the highest level between India and Pakistan.

Sports - Common Bond of Social Cohesion

The catalysts for common bonds of social cohesion: inter and intra – regional sports events, and arts and cultural festivals/shows in various regions of Jammu and Kashmir are dwindling. The historic traditions of regional sports competitions for example Polo tournaments between Leh, Kargil v Baltistan teams as well as Dras and Neelum V Chilas and Gilgit Teams suspended since 1947. Similarly, other most popular sports in all regions of J&K volleyball, football, hockey, cricket and badminton although continue to provide a common link between diverse communities at local level but inter and intra-regional people to people networks were broken because of the forced division of the state and on-going resistance for or against the status quo to bring positive change between different stakeholders.

 The forced division of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir and prolonged conflict supplemented by restrictions on the freedom of speech and movement - including barriers on interactions between people from diverse backgrounds within various regions of J&K has contributed into creations of silos of regional enclaves and an environment of mistrust among communities within and across the various regions of J&K.

This situation is adversely affecting our centuries old traditions of  interfaith harmony, respect for ethnic, linguistic and cultural diversity, and inter and intra – regional community cohesion. In last three decades there is a sharp rise in sectarian violence in Gilgit Baltistan, tribe based rivalries, harassment and discrimination in AJK, and communal tensions and acts of violence against minority faith communities in various parts of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.

Therefore, revival of inter and intra-regional sports events would help in reducing the trust deficit within all sections of our communities and create an enabling environment to build relations, bridge divisions and connect diverse communities within all regions of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.

To broaden the constituency of peace and reconciliation efforts and diversifying the range of potential entry points to influence change this project will focus on three popular sports within various regions of J&K i.e. Polo, Volleyball, and Football in the first phase. Hence, our target groups are representative Sports Associations and clubs (Polo, Volleyball and Football) and Sports departments in the respective local governments.  

 The forced division of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir and prolonged conflict supplemented by restrictions on the freedom of speech and movement - including barriers on interactions between people from diverse backgrounds within various regions of J&K has contributed into creations of silos of regional enclaves and an environment of mistrust among communities within and across the various regions of J&K.

This situation is adversely affecting our centuries old traditions of  interfaith harmony, respect for ethnic, linguistic and cultural diversity, and inter and intra – regional community cohesion. In last three decades there is a sharp rise in sectarian violence in Gilgit Baltistan, tribe based rivalries, harassment and discrimination in AJK, and communal tensions and acts of violence against minority faith communities in various parts of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.

Therefore, revival of inter and intra-regional sports events would help in reducing the trust deficit within all sections of our communities and create an enabling environment to build relations, bridge divisions and connect diverse communities within all regions of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.

To broaden the constituency of peace and reconciliation efforts and diversifying the range of potential entry points to influence change this project will focus on three popular sports within various regions of J&K i.e. Polo, Volleyball, and Football in the first phase. Hence, our target groups are representative Sports Associations and clubs (Polo, Volleyball and Football) and Sports departments in the respective local governments.  

 Sports 4 Connecting Communities project

Kashmir Development Foundation’s is leading on the design, development and delivery of  “Sports 4 Connecting Communities” project in partnership with a range of Local partners and sports associations from Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh, Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Jammu Kashmir. The aims of this project are;

  1. To build relations, bridge divisions and develop networks across communities & cultures for reconciliation, conflict transformation, and peace and development within all the regions of former state of Jammu and Kashmir by developing strong and vibrant sports networks for hosting inter and intra-regional, and across ceasefire line/Line of control (LOC) sports events/festivals;
  2. To help in removing barriers in transforming conflict and contribute in a more productive Indo-Pak peace process over Kashmir, inclusive of Kashmiri voices from all the regions of Jammu and Kashmir.

We are currently focusing on three sports Volleyball, Football and Polo and working with local sports associations for the advancement of sports by organising inter and intra-regional sports tournaments.

 We are actively seeking partnerships with Sports Associations and clubs in Gilgit Baltistan, Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK), Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh to become part of this innovative and exciting project to raise our game and influence the policies and practices for the development of sports at local and national level.

KDF is keen to facilitate development of a network of sports networks across LOC and  engaging  diaspora communities and migrant workers who have established various sports clubs in the U.K, Europe, and Middle East to establish links with their counterparts in their place of origin and heritage.

If you are interested in joining this initiatives or want to know more about “Sports 4 Connecting Communities”,


Please contact us by E-mail: [email protected]  or follow us Facebook at:

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kashmir-week-20-27-October

Kashmir Development Foundation (KDF) is leading on a national campaign to celebrate ‘Kashmir History Week’    (20 – 27 October) in recognition of the Kashmiri diaspora community and their contributions to the local economy, cultural heritage and civic life in various towns and cities alongside the Black History Month celebrations in United Kingdom.

Arts, Culture & Heritage

Advancing the education of general public in the arts, culture and heritage of Jammu and Kashmir.Kashmir Development Foundation is currently  developing a Kashmiri Diaspora oral history project. We support visual and performing arts and cultural shows.

Enterprise & Social Mobility

We are leading on the development of “J&K International Trade and Investment Network” to release the potential of Kashmiri Diaspora to realise economic regeneration, trade and investment in all the regions of Jammu and Kashmir.

Peace building and Development

We are proactively engage in removing barriers in transforming conflict and campaigning for a more productive Indo-Pak peace process over Kashmir, inclusive of Kashmiri voices from all the regions of Jammu and Kashmir.

Kashmir National Day

The enduring desire to achieve freedom, social justice, peace and a democratic system of governance in Jammu and Kashmir is renewed annually through “Kashmir National Day” on 24th October by Kashmiris all across the globe.

Social Justice and Equality

KDF believe that the people should be able to challenge the attitudes of individuals and practices of institutions and society that discriminate against and marginalise people.