Tuesday, November 29, 2022

A sports dwarf

At the recently concluded 36th National Games on October 12, held in six cities of Gujarat except the cycling event held in Delhi, almost 7,000 athletes from 28 Indian States, eight Union Territories and Services, the sports team of the Indian Armed Forces; competed for medals in 36 different sports. The medals tally has again driven home the point that Manipur is the sports powerhouse in India. Manipur also led all other states in the north east by standing ninth position after winning 20 gold, 10 silver and 20 bronze medals and a total haul of 50 medals. Assam, placed 14th in overall rank followed Manipur by winning 9 gold, 10 silver and 9 bronze medals and a total haul of 28 medals. Arunachal Pradesh, quite unexpectedly won came third among north eastern states and ranked 16 overall with 6 gold and 1 silver and a total hauls of seven medals. Tripura was third among north east states and 25th in ranking with a total haul of 3 medals(2 gold and 1 bronze). Mizoram was fourth among north eastern states and 28th ranked with a total haul of 4 medals (1 gold, 1 silver and 2 bronze). Sikkim was sixth among north east states and ranked 32nd with a total haul of 1 bronze medal. Nagaland did not win even a single medal let alone any individual or teams making it to the last four stages of the games. The other state which did not win even a single medal was Meghalaya. Nagaland has been spending or rather overspending on sports infrastructure as most of the projects have run into delays and cost overruns. The state government has been focussing much on sports infrastructure and very little on training sportspersons from the grass root. Tournaments are not necessarily the be-all and end-all of sports; there has to be talent hunt, training and nourishing the young talents and then holding well organised district level to state-level sports events. Sports associations in Nagaland have to be thoroughly revamped and not reduced to privileged abode of people who have no history of playing sports at least till district level. Recently state chief minister Neiphiu Rio purportedly spelt out a diagnosis of the ailment afflicting sports in Nagaland. Speaking at the closing ceremony of the NSF Martyrs’ Trophy on October 24, he attributed the dismal level of sports do “unresolved political issue”, lack of resources and poor infrastructure. It may be noted that Nagaland has not spent any less than Sikkim or Mizoram for sports infrastructure. Mention may be made about the first modern stadium- Indira Gandhi stadium at Kohima where a lot of money has been spent. There has also been no less money spent on the Cricket Stadium at Sovima. The other white elephant is the Multi Disciplinary Sports Complex (MDSC) at Dimapur for which work began in 2006 and scheduled to be completed by 2009 but left abandoned in 2013. It is like a ghost stadium for which around Rs.57 crore has been spent. The sports infrastructure-loving government has plans to take it over and make another ‘international’ stadium with cost to match while sportspersons get pitiable amount for participation while the officials get the cream for organising tournaments. Thus, promotion of sports in Nagaland means money for politicians and bureaucrats while sportspersons live like paupers.

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