Ill-treatment of sportspersons
FOR long sportspersons have been the saving grace for a restive state like Manipur and as such they deserve to get proper attention of the government in ensuring that the athletes get the best facility to hone their skills as well as accommodation and food supplements. Contrary to the generally agreed notion that coaches play an important role in shaping and turning the talented sportspersons into medal winners, the report of over 100 players leaving the hostels of Sports Authority of India Special Area Games (SAI-SAG) alleging ill-treatment by the hostel in-charge is most revolting, which merits thorough investigation to unearth the truth for punishing those found guilty. Not many would argue that Manipur has been a powerhouse of sports in India on account of the state either wresting the overall team championship title or regularly figuring among the top finishers in several editions of the national games. Even though services, a team made up of athletes from security establishments from across the country, had been hogging the limelight by bagging the top honour of the national games for the past few editions, it is an undeniable fact that the services team comprises many sportspersons from Manipur. The allegation by the players that they were denied essential provisions, including hygienic drinking water and food items for over four years, not only merit condemnation in the strongest term but also explanation from the authority concerned.
In recent times, the host states of National Games have consistently featured in the top 5 in the overall medal tally. Kerala had become the champions when it hosted the event in 1987 and secured the second position in 2015. The 1997 National Games was hosted by Karnataka and they won the largest number of medals. Manipur which had finished 9th in the 1997 National Games, became the overall champions when they hosted the event two years later. In 2001, host Punjab became the champions. Andhra Pradesh which had won only 11 gold medals in 2001 went on to become the champions when they hosted it in 2002 winning a whopping 94 gold medals overall. Assam had managed to win only a single gold medal and had finished 21st position in 2001. But, in the subsequent 2007 National Games that they hosted, they were the runners-up winning a total of 38 gold medals. Jharkhand had been in the 15th position in 2007 National Games. They rose to the 5th position when they hosted it in 2011. One main reason for this trend is said to be higher number of participants from the host state and comparatively lesser number of participants from other states. Manipur’s gradual decline in performance at the national games could also be due to negligence by the government and those directly associated with training the budding sportspersons. As the players need to have the basic requirements to excel in all levels of competition, there should be no leniency against sports officials, who are shirking the responsibility to guide prospective medal winners.