Building on Small Wins
From drawing a blank in the previous two National Games to winning eight medals, including a gold, three silver, and four bronze, in the just concluded 37th edition of the country’s biggest multi-disciplinary sporting event, Nagaland has put up a decent show, not only ending the medal drought but also sending out the message that athletes from the state have the potential to excel. Besides medals, the state qualified to compete in seven sports disciplines—archery, boxing, sepak takraw, taekwondo, wrestling, pencak silat, and yachting—this time against one in the 2022 National Games (competed in athletics, boxing, and wrestling through wild card). This is commendable progress in a span of just one year. And considering the level of competition, with more than 10,000 athletes from across the country competing in 43 sports events, the baby steps taken by the state deserve recognition. The outing will be a huge relief to the state government and the Sports department after receiving brickbats from various quarters for the state’s poor performance in the past. While we should learn to celebrate small wins, it is also important to avoid getting lost in celebration and sulking in defeat. The way forward is to learn from past experiences, encourage the athletes by providing financial and mental support, and enhance infrastructure.
It is evident from the emphasis given to sports over the last few years, including the hosting of mega sporting events and building infrastructure, including football fields with artificial grass, that the state government has learned its lessons, though the hard way — public criticism and embarrassment. Some changes can be seen, but much needs to be done to make quality infrastructure available in every nook and corner of the state. The recent achievements in various sports disciplines are a good reason for the government to strife towards providing world-class facilities to sportspersons. The state is also hosting the 3rd edition of the North East Olympic Games (date not declared), which can be seen as an opportunity to boost infrastructure besides promoting sports. Nagaland Olympic and Paralympic Games
In the meantime, the outlook of the public towards sports has to change. Local sports news fills state newspapers, especially in the second half of every year, indicating people’s love for sports, but it’s more seasonal than a passion. Most parents and youngsters do not see it as a career. It is often seen as a hobby that students can take up on the sidelines of their studies. This mindset has to change if the state is to produce more Dr. Talimeren Aos and Chekrovolü Swüros. It is a fact that nations that are good at sports have a strong sporting culture. Nagaland needs to imbibe such a culture. Sports can be a rewarding career option.