A wake up call for Manipur sports
Ningthoujam Dhiren *
Olympic Run Day observed in Manipur flagged off from Khuman Lampak Main Stadium on June 23 2012 :: Pix - Bunti Phurailatpam
North easterners and Manipuri in particular are living under the threat of racial discrimination. Mainland people call Manipuri as chinky/pahari/junglee and made monkey queks or many others. Recently a Manipuri senior scientist working in a Delhi base reputed national forensic science laboratory file suit in a Delhi court against his fellow colleague for calling him with racist remark all the time. Loitam Richard's recent murder case and Dana Sangma's suicide case all have been originated from racists acts of mainland people against NE people.
People of this region are feeling alienated from the mainland India. But, this region is on the hand treated as the biodiversity hotspot as well power house of traditional arts and culture, the home of varied colourful tribes, schedule castes, OBC's and upper caste people following different religion, tradition and culture etc. This region is remaining as an integral part of the nation in terms of games and sports.
Among the states, Manipur began to contribute special package in the national sports movement since the merger of Manipur in the Indian union. Remarkable achievement began to added into Indian sports movement in the form body building and fitness sports. Then, Olympian began to take birth one after another. In due course of time the nation began to recognise the sports potential and talents of Manipur and given the opportunity for the organisation of 5th National games, the greatest mega event of India. The event proved that Manipur is one of the talent pools of national sports.
The achievement of Manipur in the 1999 National Games, Imphal, is without doubt remarkable, outstanding and, deservingly without contest - Just Great! Whether you look it from left, right or centre, the medals tally and the varieties of games disciplines where these medals comes it is undeniable, "We are the future of Indian Sports and yes, the Powerhouse of Indian sports".
However, one serious note, Is Manipur able to live up to her reputation? Is Manipur able to maintain their achievement at National level competitions? There is no one to answer this question because; the reality speaks something uneasy to bear in mind. Since the 80's of the last century, SAI-NERC became a hope of sports movement in Manipur and NE region.
On many occasion SAI-NERC proved its true color by producing numbers of good athletes who converts Manipur a national Champion at the 5th national games Imphal, 1999. The nation also recognised Manipur a regional power house of games and sports of the nation. It is gifted with rich natural sports talents, due to their contribution, 5th national games have been awarded and Manipur hosted it successfully winning the overall team championship trophy for Raja Bhallendra Singh.
It brought some national standard stadiums located in Khuman Lampak, in the form of a Composite sports complex that the athletes of the state are using it as an asset for sports movement. In addition, SAI-NERC, Takyelpat, Imphal West, began to look after the sports development activities of Manipur by tapping young talents and train them for better future of Manipur sports since few decades back.
It is one of the institutes cum training centre for athletes dreaming for representing India at various international, world championships, Asian Games and Olympics etc. But recent development in the institute cum training centre speaks something unusual and which is not good for national sports movement. One such development is that when the state demanded a full-fledged Director for SAI, NERC, Imphal after the transfer of former Director in 2009, SAI New Delhi posted a Deputy Director from Guwahati sub-centre as in-charge, unfortunately, the public tend to forget the matter.
The disadvantages of a non-local person as in-charge already have adverse affect and manifested in the performance of Manipur Sports for the past three years to be exact. What Manipur need today is, in the absent of full-fledged Director, a local person who understand the situation and sentiment of the people.
If Deputy Director can be in-charge of SAI NERC Imphal, why not SAI Headquarter, New Delhi retained the previously posted OSD, who is a local, and have equivalent or more pay-scale and Grade Pay than that of Deputy Director, to be Incharge of SAI, NERC, Imphal?
Politicians and the Sports Controlling Body in Manipur may be willing to cry out from the roof-top, "Look at the last two edition of National Games i.e. Assam 2007 and Jharkhand 2011, to see Manipur current status in sports". Not to undermine the hard work and achievement of our sportsperson in national and international competition, it is time to call 'spade a spade' and introspects with the reality and seek-out solution before it's too late.
Let me substantiate my claims on the following FIVE realities:-
1. In Athletics (Track & Field) from seven gold medals and a total 13 medals in 1999 National Games, Imphal to a tally of 2 medals (without gold) in 2011 National Games, Jharkhand is neither an encouraging sight nor positive development.
2. Taekwon-Do, a sport we have dominated since its introduction in India and can/should continue to dominate. From thirteen gold medals and a tally of 19 medals in 1999 National Games, Imphal to one gold and tally of 6 medals in Jharkhand National Games 2011, what else do we supposed if not a wake-up call?
3. Take the case of Weightlifting, where our stature and robust built is consider to be very much suited for the sport, but our performance nose-dives in every succeeding National Games to nothingness i.e. from outstanding achievement in 1999 National Games, Imphal. I particularly mentioned this sport for this is a sport discipline that gives identity to sports in Manipur. Can it be that our coaches were unable to get new talents?
4. Without Cycling, Fencing and Wushu, ever imagine where Manipur medal tally will stand in National Games? No slightest intention intended to downplay the dedication and achievement of sportsperson in these disciplines. Fact of the matter is that, these are sports seriously taken by few States in India. Who can tell it will not follow the same path of Taekwon-Do, where we initially takes the lion shares of medals in National Level competitions, but lose our dominant - just like that, once other States began to take interest in the sports.
5. Ever wonder Manipur sports debacles in the recently concluded North East Games, held at Aizawl? Our stands and excuses - 'we sent our second string team, our top players out in national camps or representing the nation etc'.
Are these really justified? In Boxing, have we no other boxers than Mary Kom, Sarita or Suranjoy? The training, selection and team preparation system of Associations, YAS and SAI calls for serious look and it has to be now or never.
* Ningthoujam Dhiren Singh wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao (English Edition)
The writer is a Freelance sports writer and commentator
This article was posted on June 28 2012 .
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