Untold stories of the X Gamers of Manipur
Sabana Elangbam *
Manipur is a State well known for its diverse culture and also its popularity in the field of sports. It has produced innumerable world class sports personalities. Though I am not much into sports, something caught my mind recently, after I had a conversation with my brother the other day about X Games, and I wanted to know more about it.
Extreme Games is an event, popularly known as X Games. There are two types of X Games, Winter X Games and Summer X Games, and what we find in Manipur is the Summer one. There are various events under X Games, but in Manipur we find only four games: Bicycle Motor Cross (BMX), Skateboard, Aggressive in-line Skate and Mountain Biking (MTB).
The X Games also has international competitions and demos around the world that are held at varying times throughout the year. The little bit of research I did on internet crave me for more information on this particular game and my curiosity for it led me to the house of Mr. Irom Umananda Mangang (Secretary General of Extreme Sports Association XSAI, INDIA).
He welcomed us/me with a delicious breakfast, and as we talked about X Games I realised his immense knowledge in this field. He shared with me their experiences and achievements, and also the story behind the formation of this game in Manipur.
In the year 1997, Umananda Irom, Surjit Irom (Abocha), Skateboard Founder, Roger Salam, entire Games Founder, Olen Oinam, BMX Founder, Tabo Naorem, BMX Founder, Poly Salam, BMX Founder, 'formed a group called "Piggy Bank", during their school days. It got inspired from a Hollywood movie "Red", it was like any other teenage's dream of riding a bicycle. They saved Rs.5 every week, from their pocket money, for their group. Later, they changed their group's name to "URH" (Ultimate Rider of Horizon), established on 09.09.1999.
It is controlled by Manipur Extreme Sports. They have participated in various National as well as International level competitions with fund from their own pockets, as there was no proper sponsorships. Some of the places they have participated are: Bangalore, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Delhi, Shillong and Assam (National); Korea (B3 Games in 2008, twice), Indonesia IOXC (Indonesia Open Extreme Competition) as well as other countries.
Their simple appeal to the Government of India/Manipur is, to take initiative for them and to provide Skate Park for practice, as it very risky for the BMX and skateboard riders to practice on the roadside, also because cycle is eco friendly and helps in pollution check in the environment; they believe they will bring laurel for Manipur as well as India in the International arena. They have also conveyed a beautiful message for the Youths of Manipur regarding X Games, it is "a game where energy is used in good terms; it is an entertainment cum thrilling sports."
I have seen this game on You-tube but I never realised even a small State like Manipur could produce such excellent X Gamers and for the first time, in the History of India, they have succeeded in inviting six world top riders from Thailand and Indonesia in the Tourism Festival held in Manipur in 2009. Some of their future plans are: to build a proper skate park, to bring Asian Competitions in Manipur and to form a new team call "UMX".
The irony is, after all these achievements, they are still struggling for proper sponsorship as well as financial assistance from the Government's side, and the person who helped them in some of their tours are the members of Asian Extreme Federation (AXF), Apichat Rutnin (President of Asian Extreme Federation), Eddie Goh (Singapore Head Skateboard), Charlie Hobbes (Indonesia) and Dong Hee Shim (Korea).
I was not aware of their struggles and the hardships they faced during their daily practices in a small self made Quarter Pipe. When I saw the amount of dedication and sincerity they put in their practice, I realised that they are going to make it high. Manipur is a State that loves and respect sports, then why is this game lacking behind and after so much of pleading it still hasn't received any due recognition.
Lastly, I humbly suggest the concerned authorities to recognise this game and extend your valuable help and assistance in bringing success in the interest of the State as well as the Country. This article is also a message and an appeal to all my fellow colleagues to nurture this Game together, before it shed its interest.
* Sabana Elangbam wrote this article for Sangai Express . The writer is a B.A. 3rd year (Journalism, English Literature & Psychology) student of Mount Carmel Christian College, Bangalore. This article was webcasted on June 12, 2011.
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