National Snow Rugby Championship begins in Kashmir

Gulmarg, Mar 8: India''s first National Snow Rugby Championship was kick-started in Gulmarg, Kashmir, on Saturday.

The Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department and the state''s rugby association are co-hosting the event.

Teams from Delhi, Haryana, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and the host state, along with the team from the armed forces are competing for top honours at the three-day event.

Jammu and Kashmir''s Tourism Director Farooq Shah said the championship would boost the state''s tourism.

"Initially, when the teams used to play on ice they were afraid and they used to wonder what it will be like. But as the teams are getting used to the concept of snow rugby their perception has changed. It will be a big boost for the tourism of Jammu and Kashmir," said Shah.

The players said the playing conditions were very exciting.

"The conditions are very good as you can see that snow is falling and playing conditions are also very different. There is no snowfall like this anywhere in India so Gulmarg is the best place for snow rugby. I hope that our team has a good tournament," said Adesh, the captain of Delhi team.

Experiencing heavy snowfall during the winter, Gulmarg remains covered with snow for about six months offering excellent conditions for winter sports, including snow rugby.

Snow rugby was included in last year''s national Winter Games as a demonstrative event.

The government is also trying to cash on the growing popularity of snow rugby by promoting it in order to attract snow sports loving tourists to the valley. Local rugby tournaments are being organized in Gulmarg with increasing frequency.

Rugby existed in India since 1872, played mainly Mumbai, Kolkata, under the patronage of the Bombay Gymkhana and Calcutta Cricket and Football Club. (ANI)