The North East India is no longer a sports power house and other states are fast catching up. This has been proved by the Khelo India program of the Government of India where none of the NE states are in top 10 sending the sports policy makers into a tizzy.
As the 2019 edition of Khelo India’s flagship programme ‘Khelo India Youth Games’ culminated successfully, it is now time to look at the broader picture in detail and analyze the stages of progress when it comes to sports in the grassroots across the nation and specially among the Northeastern states.
The Khelo India programme’s idea to revamp the event from being a School Games (in 2018) to Youth Games (in 2019) was a well thought-out initiative. The event now rolls out in two age-level categories, U-17(school level) and U-21(upto university level). Maharashtra bagged the top honours in the KIYG 2019 while Haryana and Delhi claimed the second and third positions respectively. In contrast and what might come as a shock to many, none of the NorthEastern states managed to finish in the Top10 in the final medals tally.
In the past few decades, NorthEastern states have managed to garner attention for being able to project out talented sportspersons onto the national and international stage. However, as far as the grassroots are concerned, the just concluded multidisciplinary event paints an opposite picture. Manipur (9 Golds, 32 total) was the highest ranked northeastern state in the 12th position followed by Mizoram in the 16th. Towards the bottom half, Assam(22nd), Tripura(25th) and Arunachal Pradesh(27th) managed to stay afloat with medals in their kitty but Meghalaya, Nagaland and Sikkim had to return home empty handed.
It is high time the State Governments of the North Eastern Region paid heed towards the development of the sports infrastructure of the region. The fact that talented athletes of the region are scouted and roped in to train outside in much competitive environment with world class amenities are only weaking our prospects to become leaders in sports. With the help of this programme, the Govt of India plans to identify and pick 1000 budding talents every year and provide them with monetary benefits of 5,00,000 INR each and upto 8 years with an aim to develop them into world beaters.