Sports Need More Than Stadiums
Regional disparity in the development of various states is not a new phenomenon in India. The North East region has been a victim of this systematic imbalance for decades. As a result of the systematic, historical neglect, various aspects of development have been affected. Sports are one such affected developmental element. Most north eastern states lack the support and infrastructure required by budding athletes. This has limited athletes from the region from achieving long lasting success barring certain exceptions.
Recently, while inaugurating a youth hostel at Ezengo in Arunachal Pradesh, the Union Minister of State for Sports and Youth Development cited lack of good sports infrastructure as a major hurdle in the way of progress in the field of sports. He went on to announce various sports-related projects for the state of Arunachal Pradesh. Similarly, at the closing ceremony of the North East Dr T Ao Trophy in Kohima, the Chief Minister of Nagaland Neiphiu Rio announced that the Nagaland Olympic Association and the Indian Olympic Association were in the process of drawing a long-term plan for improving sports related infrastructure in the state. These development plans provide hope for every aspiring sports person in the region, something that has not been the case since independence.
While various decorated athletes have come out of the region, in most cases they were a result of remarkable talent and tremendous perseverance as gifted individuals. They succeeded in spite of the flawed system. In fact, the struggles of these individuals are symbolic of the lack of infrastructure in the region. This is also reflective of larger problems pertaining to the overall lack of development in the region. Sports form an important part of any society due to its deep and varied significance. Sports provide socialisation opportunities and help participants maintain healthily lifestyles. Sports also have humongous cultural significance. Cricket, for instance, is an inherent part of the Indian society.
Moreover, various sports leagues have shown in the previous decade that if governed and backed properly they can be utilised for generating income and profit not only for sportspersons but also hugely affect adjoining industries such as tourism, broadcasting, and merchandising. Thus, the endeavour shown by various governments in relation to the development of sports infrastructure can only lead to better outcome for several groups, besides offering economic growth in the future. It is hoped that the definition of infrastructure is not only limited to construction of a few stadiums and training centres. Rather, more focus needs to be given to talent at the grassroots level with year round training and nutrition programmes.