[ M Doley ]
Producing homegrown Olympians has been a long-nurtured dream of the state. Talks and debates have been held about it over the past many years, but nothing has come to fruition yet.
An Olympian or a sportsperson of such calibre cannot be produced overnight as it involves lot of hard work and strategies, apart from infrastructure and coaches.
It is not that Arunachal has not produced good sportspersons, but many promising sportspersons, who could have become medal contenders in the Olympics, have hung up their boots prematurely for one reason or the other.
One of the areas where the state is lacking is in grooming young talents properly and providing them enough support in terms of infrastructure, and coaches, etc.
While having talent does not mean much without hard work and practice, only a coach can help an athlete use their hard work and talent in a systematic manner to get better results. A coach may not be able help a sprinter run fast, but he/she can definitely help the sprinter run faster than their current pace. Here lies the role of a coach.
Currently, there are only six coaches under the Sports Authority of Arunachal [SAA] – one each for football, table tennis, judo and weightlifting, and two for karate. There is an instructor each for -Taekwondo and boxing. We cannot imagine miracles with the handful of coaches and instructors.
Early recruitment for the 19 newly created posts of coaches, as indicated during the recently held AGM of the SAA, could definitely come as a great relief. Arunachal is still lagging far behind other states in terms of modern sports infrastructure, particularly indoor stadiums. It is one of the main areas that the government should give thrust to.
The state government should persistently take up with the union sports ministry and the Indian Olympics Association the matter of hosting the 2026 National Games in Arunachal. Once the National Games is hosted, the infrastructure created to conduct the Games would become permanent assets for the state, thus filling up the infrastructure gaps.
The National Games is meant to promote sports and identify national talents while developing infrastructures. Moreover, the disciplines in which the sportspersons have chances of winning medals should be given priority and the sportspersons groomed as medal prospects. The union sports ministry’s ‘one state one game’ policy, which aims to enhance India’s medal winning chances in the 2024 Olympics, should be implemented in letter and spirit.
Under this policy, the states will be provided with necessary facilities to better train the young sportspersons in the selected sports, so as to prepare them for the Olympics.
The authority should also give priority to talent hunt. The ongoing State Olympics Games, which is witnessing the participation of more than 1800 athletes from across the state, should provide a good talent search opportunity.
Parents’ support is also crucial as many parents and guardians are still hesitant to let their children take up sports professionally, fearing that they would not be able to earn a livelihood through sports in the future.
As a side note, it is also often alleged that many (but not all) sportspersons of the state become egoistic after achieving some success, and thereafter their performances start to fall. While the government is trying its level best, the sportspersons should reciprocate.
With the coming up of a centre of excellence for sports, which is currently operating from Sangey Lhaden Sports Academy, the state would be able to produce more sportspersons in the coming days.
The hope is that the day is not far when our fellow citizens from the state will perform at the highest levels, giving us a chance cheer for them.