Thangjam Modhu: The Pioneer Of School Games In Manipur
Source: Hueiyen News Service

Imphal, October 31 2013: Outstanding performances of Manipuris in the global sports events have been due to many reasons, among which the most important being the inborn enthusiasm and unending dedication of hundreds of celebrated as well as unsung sports-lovers of the yore.

Tracing the golden footprints of the pioneers is the true essence of celebrating our achievements.

This column is an attempt to unfold the unique sporting spirit coupled with the patriotic zeal of those who, in their prime of life, unceasingly dreamt of and worked for a superb Manipur.

'ON THE GOLDEN FOOTPRINTS' is the reproduction of Ratneshwori Goswami's Akao Parei Chankhrabasing published in the Huieyen Lanpao (Manipuri) editions.

Thangjam Modhu Singh, popularly known as Director Modhu was a spirited sports-lover who endeared games with strong conviction to identify the state with sports glories before the rest of the world.

His perpetual dreams have gradually been realized today even after his demise in December 2009.Shri Modhu can also be described as the pioneer of school games movement in Manipur.

Thangjam Modhu:  The Pioneer Of School Games In Manipur
Thangjam Modhu: The Pioneer Of School Games In Manipur

With the objective of nurturing sports at the school level, the School Games Federation of India was formed in Kolkata (former Calcutta) in 1954 with BC Mohanty of Orissa as President and AC Das (Inspector of Physical Education, Orissa) as Executive Head.

In the first School Games held in Panchmari, only a few states like Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Bhopal, Saurastra and Pepsu took part in the four events namely Football, Kabaddi, Volleyball and Athletics.

The School Games Federation got the recognition of Ministry of Education, Government of India only in the IV School Games held in December 1958 in Delhi where 15 states of the country participated.

Thangjam Modhu led the Manipur School Team in this Games where the then President Dr.Rajendra Prasad and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru expressed the vision that the school games would help a lot in the development of sports in the country.

In 1959, Shri Modhu again led the Manipur team to the Vth edition of the School Games in Mumbai (Bombay), where the state's team became champion in Football by defeating Andhra Pradesh in the final.

Manipur students had entered the final by defeating West Bengal.

A big scuffle ensued between Modhu and the organizers who irritatingly questioned the location of Manipur in the country's map.

A well-educated and spirited sportsman Modhu threw a big challenge in front of the organizers in the presence of Union Home Minister that he would one day identify a brilliant Manipur in the field of sports.

In 1962, Manipur hosted the VIII School Games where the state stood second position in Football with West Bengal winning the champions.

Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and Andhra Pradesh stood first, second and third positions respectively in Kabaddi event.

In Table Tennis, West Bengal and Gujarat (G) won first position, while Delhi (B) and Delhi (G) grasped runners-up, and Maharastra (B) and West Bengal (G) became third positions.

Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat got first and second positions respectively in Kho-Kho events.

West Bengal (B), Maharastra (B) and Manipur team became first, second and third position holders respectively in Swimming.

Modhu tremendously contributed to the hosting the Games in Manipur.

For the second time, Manipur again hosted the XVIII National School Championship during 25-29 October 1972 under the banner "School Games Autumn Meet" during the Chief Ministership of Md.Alimuddin.

During that time, Smt.

Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister of the country and BK Nehru was the Governor of Manipur.

Shri Modhu was the Organizing Secretary of the event participated by 18 states of the country.

There were 1261 participants including 702 boys, 350 girls, 209 officials.

Manipur team comprised 50 boys, 21 girls and 8 officials.

It was a great satisfaction to Shri Modhu who had solicited the participation of the Indian states in the Games.

Besides the host Manipur, other states which participated in the Championship were Assam, Bihar, Kerala, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Maharsatra, Nagaland, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.

To Thangjam Modhu, the organization of V National Games in Manipur happened to be a befitting reply to those who had questioned the whereabouts of Manipur state during the 1959 School Games in Maharashtra.

As Director of Youth affairs and Sports, he was instrumental in the smooth organization of the National Games in 1999.On the successful accomplishment of the Games after numerous deferments, Shri Modhu once said that strong conviction and commitment was responsible for the triumph in the country's biggest sporting competition.

He once said " I was probably the happiest man when Manipur received the Raja Bhalendra Singh trophy by becoming champions in V National Games on 25 February 1999".In fact, his confidence and unending efforts played a big role in Manipur's becoming the powerhouse of sports in the country.

Thangjam Modhu, the former Sports Director was also a popular Hockey player of Eastern Sporting Union, of which he was also the General Secretary for sometime.

It was said that no player could encroach upon when the trio Thangjam Modhu, Ngairangbam Mani and Helim Chowdhury stood in the back position.

With strong belief that Manipur had the potential to produce Hockey Olympians in future, Thangjam Modhu took active role in the development of Hockey in Manipur.

Not only Hockey, he also played Cricket, Badminton and Basketball.

He was the certificate holder in Basketball in the Srinagar Tennis Camp in 1956 .

When Shri Modhu was the Deputy Director of sports, he successfully organized a national coaching camp inviting famous coaches to train the Manipur players in athletics, football and cricket.

American Coach Charles Jenkin, the world record holder in 400m, was engaged in training the players during the camp held in the Kangla complex.

Shri Modhu wanted the Manipuri players to be trained in international standards in spite of the huge expenses.

According to him, the driving force behind our achievements was our eagerness to be always on the lead.

It can well be said that the efforts of the late Thangjam Modhu Singh were a big blow to the journey of sports movement in contemporary Manipur.

The present generation owes greatly to this vigorous personality.

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