April 23, 2010

North East: It's the Games, not the Festival

Read an interesting article in The Telegraph this morning about the 24th North-East Games currently being held in Shillong. The Games, which were previously known as the 'North-East Sports Festival', have had a change of name in hope to be taken more seriously and recognized by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA). Unfortunately, like everything in mainstream India about the North-East, the sporting issues relating to those eight states continue to be taken lightly.

The Meghalaya State Olympic Association has appealed to the Sports Authority of India (SAI) to take necessary steps to get the North East Games recognised by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and the North Eastern Council directly associated with it.
Speaking to The Telegraph on the sidelines of the ongoing 24th North East Games here, Meghalaya State Olympic Association (MSOA) general secretary D. Syiemlieh said the annual meet was yet to shed its “festival” tag primarily because it is not recognised by the IOA.
“It was a welcome initiative when it was rechristened North East Games instead of the erstwhile North East Sports Festival. However, the attitude of the organisers as well as the participants unfortunately remained as amateurish as before,” Syiemlieh observed.
“Unless it is recognised by the IOA and the state Olympic associations are involved, the attitude of the participants will not change because the medals and certificates in this meet are till now just ornamental. The SAI should take immediate steps to get it recognised by the IOA and get it organised more professionally,” he added.
The meet is now organised by the state directorates of sports or the state sports councils with partial funding from SAI. The state sports associations are involved in selecting the state teams and technical conduct only.

The North-East states - Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, and Tripura - can be developed into essential breeding grounds for athletic talent in India. Already, a great many of our football stars have hailed from that region. It is sad to here words such as "the attitude of the participants will not change because the medals and certificates in this meet are till now just ornamental": the mainstream media, too, has to give more respect to that part of our country instead of treating them like our illegitimate step brothers.
The states have been competing against each other in Football, Badminton, Table Tennis, Basketball, Boxing, Wushu, Karate, and other events.

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