Kashmir woman to coach Indian canoe team in ICF championship

Kashmir woman to coach Indian canoe team in ICF championship

Bilquis Mir, the first Kashmiri Muslim woman to become coach of Indian canoe team, will once again be at the helm of affairs of the national side in the International Canoe Federation (ICF) championship to be held in Italy in August this year.

"I am happy to be chosen as coach of Indian team for the International Canoe Federation (ICF) championship to be held in Milan, Italy from August 19 to 23," 29-year-old Mir told PTI.

"I will also take part in coaching camp of the senior team of India for ICF championship in SAI, Bhopal from July 18 to August 18," Mir said.

Selected for the third time as a coach to train the players, she believes Indian team can make a big lead in the championship. "I am confident that India will make a big lead," she said.

Mir was the first Kashmiri woman to become a national Kayaking and Canoeing coach. She was also inducted into the International Panel of Elite Referees -- the first Indian woman to get the honour. She was also honoured with the state award for outstanding sportsperson in 2010.

She also holds the feat of being the first Indian to be selected as the International Technical Official for canoeing at All Africa Games 2011.

It was in 2007, the sports planners appointed her as the coach for the national team, which was a rare honour for a woman of J&K.

"I was the first woman from Jammu and Kashmir to become the national coach of canoeing team from 2007 to 2010," she said.

"I feel happy to represent India as a coach. It is honour for me," Mir said, adding "I started my career in 1997. It was not easy to reach here. I braved huge opposition but remained consistent and today I am here."

The canoe champion credits her family, especially her mother, for supporting her in her sporting success.

"It was my family that stood behind me firmly. What I am today it is because of them. They supported me at every point.

"You know the situation Kashmir has gone through during all these years. It was difficult for me but motivation and support of my family is foundation stone of my success," she said.

Hailing from Srinagar, Mir represented India in World cup in Hungary and is a national medalist since 1998.

"I passed my coaching course from Hungary with excellent grades. And it proved a milestone in my life. Plus Sports Authority of India and J&K youth services and sports helped me when I was in Hungary for coaching course," she said.

Mir, who recently won the J&K state award for outstanding sportsperson, was just 10 when she started canoeing. And since then there is no looking back.

She plans to set up a kayaking and canoeing club in Kashmir and she is confident that her team can win medals in 1000m singles, 1000m doubles and 200m doubles.

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