There must be many who first open the sports page when going through the day’s paper and surely there is a reason for this.
In Manipur, the reason obviously will have to do with the fact that while the front page of almost all the daily newspapers tell stories of the day’s happenings, which are not at all happy tidings for anyone, the sports pages tell stories of the heroics of the young boys and girls who play in different disciplines.
Not all the sports items tell stories of victory but even here these stories reflect on the quest for excellence on the playing field and this is what makes the sports pages much more interesting than the front page news.
If recently the boys did the State proud with eight players from Manipur named in the U-17 World Cup team for India, the same boys are again at it with seven of them already named in the probables of the U-19 team to take part in the qualifying round for the Asian Football Confederation.
Of the 29 probables who have been called for the camp to select the U-19 team, at least 8 are from Manipur, with seven of them having already represented the country in the recently held U-17 World Cup.
Early days yet and while the final team is yet to be announced, it is a good sign that eight probables from Manipur have been called up for the U-19 team.
This is what is encouraging and it is developments like this, which make many turn to the sports page the moment they pick up the day’s paper to go through with their morning cuppa.
And it is not only those who have made it to the National team who make the news but the different tournaments held round the year in different disciplines.
A look at the calendar year will be more than indicative that not a single month passes off without some sports held at some level.
It is this tradition which should be kept alive and promoted.
The Government has done its bit by coming up with the infrastructure and providing all possible assistance but it can still study how it can encourage the players more.
The night tourney recently held at Kangpokpi can be seen as an innovative measure taken up to promote sports in the State and in the hills.
What is encouraging about the night tourney at Kangpokpi is the fact that it was organised by the local people, with not much participation from the Government.
It is efforts like this from the people which matter.
Football, hockey, badminton and to a lesser extent cricket are games which have been attracting the interests of the people and a look at any of the major football team in the country will throw up a list of players from Manipur.
This could not have been possible without the preparatory work here at the primary level.
Nurseries, which can identify and tap talents and the round the year different tournaments held all over the State, are obviously the nurseries from where players can take their first step to the big stage.
It is against this reality why the unsavoury incident after a match at the 12th Manipur State League some days back came like a bucket of cold water after a hot shower.
Referees assaulted and since then the League has been suspended.
What happened at Mapal Kangjeibung some days back defeated the very understanding of the spirit of sports and stern action ought to be initiated at the earliest.
The All Manipur Football Association too need to look into the grievances aired by the newly formed Manipur State League Participating Teams Forum.
Source: The Sangai Express