On behalf of the people of Mizoram I welcome you all to the 26th edition of the NE Games 2012.
Mizoram is 25 years old this year, (a common birthday shared with Arunachal Pradesh). As you are perhaps aware, it became the 23rd State in February 1987. Today is indeed a historic moment for us – for the first time in Mizoram’s sporting history, we are playing host to sportsmen and women from the entire NE Region. I congratulate all those involved in making this a reality.
We are fortunate to have a young and dynamic Sports Minister in Shri Zodintluanga, who with his team of dedicated officials from the Sports & Youth Services Department and the State’s Sports Council, have tirelessly worked for the success of these Games.
As part of the sports promotion programme, under his able guidance, we already have completed laying of three astro-turf besides attracting a number of foreign coaches in different disciplines within a short span of three years. The ‘Catch’em Young Policy’ is already paying dividends.
The very ground where we stand now is the State Stadium dedicated in honour of Shri Rajiv Gandhi, the visionary who was responsible for Mizoram to be what it is today. Today, we fondly remember him and miss him. Smt. Sonia Gandhi, the Chairperson of UPA has been kind enough to lay the foundation stone of this stadium and we are grateful for her constant support for its completion. We have just begun the construction last year and it is proposed to be completed by 2014 with all the modern amenities to host not only national but international events as well.
There is no dearth of talent in the NE region. Today, we are proud of the achievements made by MC Mary Kom and Bhaichung Bhutia, who have done the region proud by bringing laurels in boxing and football respectively. We honour them. We are also proud to have a good number of sports persons who have won laurels for the North East at the national and international level. We look forward to more local talents from the North East in future. We already have a fair presence in the national football arena. There will be more in different fields, including Cricket. There is great potential in other contact sports and martial arts like Taekwondo, Judo and Karate. Indoor games like gymnastics, table tennis, weight lifting, power lifting, billiards and snookers need to be promoted further. We are going to have a world class golf course as well
We must also revive the region’s Hockey Talent to regain the old glory.
To facilitate such schemes, one of the primary requirements is of funds. Ironically enough, we have not been able to build the required infrastructure to nurture sports. Besides, training in sports requires huge investment and we lack proper coaching facilities and properly equipped training centres to train young people for national and international standards.
For a society where the overwhelming majority is under fed and toiled hard to make both ends meet, sports is often a rare and utopian option. With a huge population, it is not an easy choice for the government to spend on sports when other core sectors are demanding for similar funding.
However, the picture has slowly changed for the better especially during the last decade or so.
The National Sports Policy 2001 was formulated to make sports more broad based and promote excellence. However, proper implementation of the policy has been far from reality because of various constraints.
Sports administration and management is also one area which needs to be developed by using a professional approach. We have seen the Commonwealth Games fiasco.Indiacan ill afford such embarrassment. Our Universitites and Management Institutions must develop courses in Sports Administration and Management.
The Corporate houses, either as part of their social responsibility or in the public-private partnership (PPP) mode, the media and the government, all need to work together to bring the country to a new level in sports.
The scheme for promotion of sports in North Eastern States under the PYKKA Scheme has to be upscaled from Rs. 50,000/- per district for district level competition to at least Rs. 1.00 lakh. Simultaneously, for State level competition, the funding could be revised to at least Rs. 3.00 lakh. All of us in the North East must request Government of India to consider this revision keeping in view the overall price escalation in the country as also the remoteness of the area.
Today’s world belongs to the youth and it cannot but be truer than in our country as we have the largest number of young people in the world today. We have to prepare for these people. Through sports, it is possibly to channelize a large percentage of young energy in a constructive way. We have to develop this human resource that has a great potential to compete with sporting giants likeChina,USA,RussiaandKorea.
As we begin the Games today, it is my fervent appeal that all should play in the true spirit of SPORTSMANSHIP. Please inculcate sportsman spirit in and out of the field. You win some, you lose some !
Let the feeling of fraternity and friendship prevail over the competition per se. We must upkeep our unity above everything else. Together, we shall march forward.
I wish each and every one of the participants, every success.