Around 48 Kashmiri youngsters will participate in the 65th edition of the famous Nehru Trophy boat race to held on the second Saturday of August in Kerala. The teams have already arrived in Kumarakom and Alappuzha for their practice.
According to a Deccan Chronicle report, 30 of them have joined the Town Boat Club of Kumarakom, which owns the Karichal Chundan team, and 28 of them have joined the Devas Chundan team of Jesus Club of Alappuzha. These rowers are said to be dragon boat rowers who have participated in national championships. They all are members of Nehru Park Water Sports Centre at the Dal Lake in Srinagar.
â€œWe met the Kashmiris during the dragon boat race in Assam in April this year. We invited them for the Nehru Boat Race and they agreed. Most of them know canoeing and kayaking, and have been rowing shikara boats in the Dal Lake,â€œ Sunil Kumar, Kumarakom Town Boat Club's trainer told The Times of India.
As per the Nehru trophy rules only 25% of a team can be outsiders, which means only 20 of them can participate in one team. Reports state that even though these oarsmen were new to snake boats and language was a barrier, they got accustomed to it very soon.
The first team from Kashmir reached Kerala on Tuesday and the second team by Thursday. All of them would practice along with the local rowers for about two weeks. The teams are practicing for six hours every day. The boat race will be held on August 12.
Rich boat clubs used to get rowers from other states for Nehru Trophy, but this is the first time that a group from a particular state is participating. Rowers from the Army and the Steel Authority of India have earlier participated in the prestigious competition, Jayakrishnan Nairâ€™s report on ToI points out.