[ M Doley ]
It is a sad fact that Arunachal Pradesh has in recent times not been able to produce champion athletes of international standards who can represent the state at Asian or higher level competitions.
The silver medal-winning performances by weightlifter Yukar Sibi and karateka P Nobin Jomoh at the Commonwealth Championships have been the highest individual performances at the senior level so far by any sportsperson from the state in any sports discipline recognized by the Olympics.
However, it does not mean that the state lacks sports talents. There are so many junior players in different disciplines who have been performing very well in national, South Asian and Youth Commonwealth championships.
It has been a couple of years since we witnessed some brilliant performances by a few promising young lifters and archers from the state at events held for the Commonwealth and South Asian countries, and at national level championships.
The sportspersons of the state perform brilliantly at the junior level, thanks to their inborn talents. But their performance falls gradually when they graduate from the junior to the senior level.
We often cite the excuse of unavailability of infrastructure as a major hindrance in the development of sports in Arunachal; but no amount of infrastructure can produce good sportspersons, unless there is hard work, dedication, and determination on the part of the players.
Many sports infrastructures, including football grounds and community hall-type indoor stadiums, that have been created in various districts are either lying unused or are allowed to go to ruin. We should make good use of the available infrastructure.
The African nations are now a dominant force in the world of sports, particularly in track-and-field events. The athletes, especially the sprinters of those countries, train/practice rigorously in the hilly terrains, not on well-developed tracks.
The demand for appointment of coaches, in fact, is genuine. They are the persons behind the success of the sportspersons. A coach cannot make a sprinter fast, but they can help and guide the sportsperson to run faster. The importance of coaches lies here.
We have seen a number of ambitious programmes and policies in the sports sector of the state, including pension schemes for meritorious sportspersons. The job reservation for meritorious sportspersons is the highest in Arunachal Pradesh (10%) compared to any other state in the country.
But despite such sportspersons-friendly programmes and policies, we have not been able to produce a single player who can represent the state at the highest stage till date.
As per sources, the state has been unable avail the benefits of many youth development projects/schemes of the ministry of youth affairs & sports due to insufficient officials in the department concerned, which is very unfortunate.
For effective implementation of the programmes and policies, and for overall growth of sports in the state, the Sports Authority of Arunachal has been repeatedly appealing to the government for early passing of the Arunachal State Sports Authority Bill, 2018.
The days are over when participation mattered most. Today, only medals count.
The sports associations – the main grassroots-level organizers – have a great role to play in the development of the sports sector. There are so many experienced sports officers and officials in the department who can raise the standard of sports to the next level by properly utilizing their expertise.