Within three years of MP chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan declaring malkhamb as the state sport and instituting a special award–Prabhash Joshi Sports Award– to promote players of traditional style of gymnastics, the game has apparently lost its identity.
The Prabhash Joshi Sports Award will not be presented at the Madhya Pradesh Shikhar Khel Alankaran Samman Samaroh scheduled to be held on November 10.
Chouhan declared malkhamb, a traditional Indian sport in which a gymnast performs feats and poses in concert with a vertical wooden pole or rope, as the state sport in April 2013, and instituted the award the same year.
Despite receiving a good number of complaints malkhamb players for not being awarded in 2015-16, the state sports department did not find a single eligible applicant for the Prabhash Joshi Award.
“The award is prestigious one and only eligible candidates can get it so it will not be conferred to anyone this year,” said Upendra Jain, state director of sports.
For the award, an applicant should have won at least three medals in national level tournaments in the senior category.
Malkhamb players alleged that the sport has lost its identity within three years due to the indifferent attitude of the government towards the disciple.
“After declaring the game as the state sport, the government forgot to provide facilities. Even in Bhopal, players have to struggle hard to practice as there is no fix akhara or playing arena to practice,” a malkhamb player, who did not wish to be named, said.
“In the absence of proper facilities and motivation, players are losing interest, which has led to dearth of good players.”
This year, the state government will honour sports persons with the state’s highest sports awards, including the Vishmitra award on November 10, where Olympic silver medallist PV Sindhu will be present as a special guest.
On the occasion, Sindhu will be awarded `50 lakh for winning a silver medal at the Rio Olympic Games.
The Vishwamitra Award will be given to two coaches, including Sudesh Sangte for soft tennis and Virendra Panwar for taekwondo.
The Lifetime Achievement Award will be given to state women hockey academy coach Paramjeet Singh.