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Sports persons demand facilities

india Updated: Apr 11, 2011 13:15 IST
Chetan Chauhan

Pushpa is just 12 and is part of Manipur's next generation of sporting powerhouse but her dream to be world champion like many other Manipuri sportsperson such as boxer M C Mary Kom, may get shattered because of inadequate facilities.

"I want to be a champion, please help," she told sports minister Ajay Maken in Imphal on Tuesday. "There is no coach and sports equipment is very old."

Pushpa, a kuzushi martial art player, who goes by her first name, was among 300 bidding sportsperson who interacted with Maken at National Sports Academy in Imphal this week and briefed him about the petty problems they face to aspire for their sporting career.

Manipur with a population of less than 0.2 % of India 1.20 billion people was first among Indian states in the recently concluded National Games in Jharkhand. And, its representation in the Asian games was also impressive with three of its boxers winning bronze medals. Such a record also made Maken admit, "Future of Indian sports lies in Manipur".

Most adolescent Manipuri sportspersons, dominated by women, however, gave some hiccups to Maken's prediction when they complained that they are forced to train with outdated equipment and coaches, who themselves need training.

"I am a cyclist but there is no specialized area for cycling," said Rameshwari Devi, who won a gold medal in the recently concluded national games in Ranchi.

Venku Rani complained that her dream of being an international squash player may not materialize as there is no squash court in entire Manipur. Roshan, another girl, did not like sharing her hostel with boys.

Although Maken assured of all help from the Central government he was happily amazed to find enthusiasm for sports especially among girls. All the tough questions came from adolescent girls, which the minister complimented, was a good sign for the Indian sports.

There are several reasons for Sports being big in Manipur. Many sportswomen are local heroes here and the government policy of providing government jobs, in a state of high unemployment, to sportsperson has encouraged women. "More than 60 % of the medals in the national games were won by women and all of them have been assured a job," said a Manipur's sports department official.

Unofficially, sporting is the only activity for people to excel in this insurgent hit state. "Sports is in our culture," said a local coach with Sports Authority of India (SAI).

Devi, 17, who was the oldest of the girls asking questions, want to assure India of sporting glory from Manipur provided the facilities are adequate and they get opportunity to compete in international events. Most officials agreed with her but paucity of funds was a stumbling block.