Martial arts player from Pampore clinches National Icon Award calls for improved sports infrastructure in J&K
Maroof Hilal Sofi, a talented martial arts player hailing from the Saffron Town of Pampore in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, has been felicitated with the prestigious National Icon Award in sports. Known for his exceptional skills, Maroof has previously represented India at various levels, securing several medals.
Speaking with the news agency, Maroof said he had a passion for martial arts since childhood. “I began learning martial arts at the age of 8,” he said. He won a bronze medal at the 16th World Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation Championship held in the Philippines last year. “Receiving any award means recognition of efforts and it boosts confidence and provides courage to showcase skills more efficiently,” he said.
Proud of his achievement, Maroof received the National Icon Award at a ceremony held in Delhi, attended by high-ranking officials. He said awards make his parents happy and proud. “This gives me more happiness,” he said. Sofi said he has participated in various tournaments at the state, national, and international levels and has consistently clinched medals – 6 gold medals at the national level and a bronze medal at the international level.
He also serves as the head coach of Thang Ta Academy in Pampore, where he trains youth interested in martial arts. He said sports promote physical fitness and prevent drug addiction among youth. Commenting on the sports infrastructure in Jammu & Kashmir, the athlete said, “We lack infrastructure and have only a few stadiums available that too for cricket only. However, infrastructure is being developed.”
There is a need for more indoor sports stadiums as during winter, players are unable to practice. “Such facilities should be made available round-the-year so that athletes can practice well and excel more at various stages,” he said—(KNO)