Manipur has five of its own competing in the summer Olympics- by far the biggest sporting extravaganza where the world’s best athletes compete against each other for supremacy and domination under the motto faster, higher, stronger. Out of the 81 athletes in Team India-the largest ever Indian Olympics contingent, five are from the tiny state and their presence at the Olympics says and proves a lot about the ability and proficiency of the people of the state. This also shows that the state is not just about all the negativities that are being reported day in and day out, but it has lots of promises and hopes. It is time for the people of the state to come out and nurture such dreams and promises and compete with the best in the world and go faster, higher and stronger than them all. That the people of the state have the sporting instincts have been proved time and again and we need not dwell further more on the topic, but what has aroused the people’s interest time and again is the question, are we fully channelizing our sporting talents? Our sportspersons have time and again brought laurels to the state and the country, but are we properly nurturing and grooming our vast pool of young sporting talents? We have the talents and we have the spirits to become world beaters, but we are far behind when it comes to infrastructures and facilities. Except for the Khuman Lampak Sports Complex which has remained neglected by the state for the past many years until the recent visit of the state Chief Minister and the Mapal Kangjeibung, the state does not have much sporting venues and infrastructures. Our sporting talents have largely been nurtured in the several local playgrounds or lampaks, where children come out after their school to interact and play all sorts of sporting disciplines. What is interesting and warmly welcomed at this stage is the recent visit of the state Chief Minister to the Khuman Lampak sports complex, and his announcement of several upgradations for the sports complex which if fulfilled could do a world of good in encouraging the sportspersons of the state who flocked the complex day in and day out.
In such a scenario, whatever the results may be, reaching the Olympics is in itself an achievement. Well for all it matters, athletes from the developed countries like the US or the European countries or even some of the Asian countries like China and Japan may not take reaching the Olympics play-off as that big an achievement, they might still moan at missing out on the much-loved yellow metal. But for a small state like ours with so limited resources and infrastructures, reaching the Olympics is in itself a sweet success and it calls for celebration no matter what the results are. However this year’s Olympics should also be an eye opener for the vast numbers of emerging players and the youths of the state. They should feel inspired by the participation of the five in the London Olympics and try and reach the medal podiums of the Olympics. Sports have put the state on the world map time and again like no other has done. We believe it will continue to do even better in the future. Sports, as we see is the road which could encourage the youths and the state towards positivity and save the state’s spirit from total desolation. The government should find ways to motivate the youths of the state to take up sports. The government needs to expand its vision towards the development of sports in the state and work hand in glove with the different sporting associations of the state. The objective of the cooperation between the government and the associations should be to encourage and develop sports and channelize the positive energies of the youths. It should not in any event end upon the table-tops as mere paper works and words. Sporting associations also need to strengthen their developmental programmes from the grass-root levels and nurture the talents and continue to earn respect from the sporting world.
While, two of our players-archer Laishram Bombayla and weightlifter Ngangbam Soniya Chanu have bowed out of the London Olympics, let’s hope that the remaining three-Boxers Laishram Devendro and Mangte Chungneijang Mary Kom and Hockey player Kadangbam Kothajit Singh manage to do the state and the country proud.