Manipur needs the railway, it’s taking long time: Former Indian hockey player | assembly-elections$manipur-2017 | Hindustan Times
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Manipur needs the railway, it’s taking long time: Former Indian hockey player

The state really needs to pick up pace in connectivity so that it can overcome its geographical disadvantage. By connectivity, I mean the railway that is taking a long time to come.

assembly elections Updated: Feb 08, 2017 18:04 IST
Kshetrimayum Thoiba Singh
Thoiba Singh, a former Indian hockey star is now the deputy manager of Food Corporation of India in Imphal .
Thoiba Singh, a former Indian hockey star is now the deputy manager of Food Corporation of India in Imphal . (HT Photo/Rahul Karmakar)

Manipur has changed over the years, but not at the pace one would have ideally liked. I give importance to quality speed, maybe because I was one of the fastest hockey players of an era that had the likes of Zafar Iqbal, Mohammed Shahid, Terry Walsh and Ric Charlesworth.

For any sportsperson to excel, support from the family is vital. In the case of a state and its people, it is the support from the government, headed by whichever party, that matters. I was fortunate to have supportive parents at a time when Manipur did not have much in terms of sporting infrastructure.

At 15 years, I was the youngest player to represent Manipur at the hockey nationals in 1976. Sprinting was my passion too, and I represented Manipur at the national athletics meet in 1980.

Sprinting helped me dash with the hockey stick at great speed, and it made me cement my position in the Indian hockey team for many years since 1983. My short stature and fast counter-attacks down the left flank earned me the moniker ‘Maradona of Hockey’. The sport – and a degree in economics – also earned me a job in the Indian Airlines in 1983 before I moved on to Food Corporation of India six years later. I am now the FCI’s deputy manager for the region posted in my hometown Imphal.

Law and order issues, blockades, ethnic tensions – Manipur appears to be bathed in negativity. But there have been positives, though the pace of development is much behind other parts of the country. The state really needs to pick up pace in connectivity so that it can overcome its geographical disadvantage. By connectivity, I mean the railway that is taking a long time to come. And connectivity takes care of a lot of other issues, such as industries based on local resources to provide employment and ensure peace.

My state has also slackened a bit in sports. There’s hardly anything beyond the Khuman Lampak Sports Complex (Imphal). Other parts of the Imphal Valley and the hills need facilities to tap sporting talents. The government needs to do much more to make Manipur a sporting powerhouse, such as supporting the local associations that do the real job of promoting sports.

People in Manipur do not expect much from the politicians, maybe because of rampant corruption and half-hearted projects undertaken before elections. It is time people voted to make their representatives accountable, and support them to become better productive citizens with a positive attitude.

Singh is a former Indian hockey player

(As told to Rahul Karmakar)