Even though the people of mainland India don’t recognize Manipur as an important part, Manipur has been the powerhouse of sports since her merger to India. Manipur attained full-fledged statehood on 21 January 1972.
Once, the first prime minister of India Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru proudly called Manipur “The Jewel of India“. Manipur shines in the North-eastern part of India and is surrounded by lush green hills on all sides. These hills formed an oval shape valley in the center called the Imphal valley which is the capital city of the state. Since the time immemorial, the blood of sports has been running inside the vein of people living in Kangleipak. The real live instance is the game “Polo“, the kind of sport play with horses and wooden sticks, is the gift from the people of Manipur to the world.
Manipur is home to many ethnic groups namely the Metei or Meetei, Naga, Kuki, Pangal, etc. since the time immemorial and are inhabited in different parts of the state with peace and harmony.
Manipur is quite well known for producing great and famous sportsmen in India even though its population is very less as compared to the many states of India. The state is popularly known as “The Powerhouse of sports” in the country.
Why Manipur is called the Powerhouse of sports in India?
Yes, you hear it right. Even though the population and the area are very small as compared to other states, Manipur is anonymously called “The Powerhouse of sports in India“. This is the place where Marry Kom the five-times world women boxing champion lives. Manipur has produced many great and famous sportsmen throughout the year. Once Ngangom Dingko Singh won the first gold medal in the Asian boxing champion for the first time in the history of India. His medal had saved India from the humiliation of long starve of a medal in the boxing arena.
The contribution of Manipur towards the sports ground of India is very huge. It will be a little difficult not to find a single Manipuri player in any state of India. She has produced a lot of great sportspeople till now in various disciplines. There is no such game that the people of Manipur don’t play. You just name a game and you’ll find one famous Manipuri player.
One of the most famous and crowd attractions game in the state is football. Not only in the state, but its football team is also famous all over the country. As my type of job demands to travel to different places in the country, I’m accustomed to the words “you must be a good football player, you should be the captain of your team.” (haha..in real I’m not such type of football player what they think). What I want to say here is “how people of other states think about us?”. They think that every Manipuri should be a player in one or other disciplines.
With the inception of ISL(Indian Super League), many young football players from the state are getting more and more opportunities to expose their talent. Since the game is an international standard tournament, many young players are getting chances of playing with foreign players thereby increasing their skill level.
The recent inclusion of a women Manipuri footballer named Ngangom Bala Devi (born on 02 Feb 90) to a Scottish Women’s Premier League club Rangers is the real-life example of the level of sports of the state. Currently, she is playing as a forward in the team. This is the first time in the history of Indian Women’s football to bag a professional contract from a foreign club.
” Asengba Meitei Chanu gi matik ni ngasi eikhoina uba phanglibasi“
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Can we still hold the position of “The powerhouse of sports”
Nothing is impossible if we want to. Since the last decade, the competition level in any discipline of sports has been changed rapidly in a high-intensity mode. Only the muscle power and resources we got cannot face the ever-increasing competition. So, in order to maintain the standard and to meet the ever-growing challenges of our players, our state government needs to take various steps on time to tackle the situation.
In most of the cases, our players tend to shift their playing ground outside the state owing to superior facility or advantages as compared to Manipur. We can term this problem as a “Sport’s Brain drain“. In such a case, there will be the migration of good players from one state to another for the search of the good facilities or financial support. The one that produces good players from the grass-root level will slowly lose its fame and manpower resulting in a demotion of the motivational level of the young players.
How to tackle this Sport’s Brain Drain?
The very first and simple step is to provide our players with the basic amenities and facilities to maintain their playing level. Failing to do so will only result in the migration of our many great players to other states. There has been a lot of instances in the recent time that many players of our state played from other states against Manipur. “Manipuri masel ngakta sanabagi fibam da laktoure“.
To be an exceptional sports player is also not an easy task. I think it is relevant to remember the proverb “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. They also need to get all the essential things for sports like good food, nutritionist, trainer, equipment, etc. like any other players in the world. To get all these facilities they need a steady financial source. During the initial state of any player, the only support they get is from their parent. What about those who don’t have parents? They’re forced to do simple chores to meet their requirements. Until and unless they show up their talent or ability to any state or central recognized sports facility.
Even if a player brings laurel and medals from the national and international level, our state government or sports department often fails to provide them suitable financial sources or simply a job. So, it won’t be easy for our sportsperson to sustain themselves, and naturally, they tend to search for a stable source to support them financially.
Therefore, the government of our state should take up measures to avoid such migration and support them mentally and financially. This will help them to concentrate on their respective discipline rather than thinking about the next meals. Not only the government, but we can also help and support our players from our side to some extent to help them meet their requirements. However, it is easier said than done, but nothing is impossible if we want to do so.
This article is contributed by one of the members of our team, Inside Manipur. We focused on the themes that are the utmost importance to our society irrespective of any ethnic groups. Also, don’t forget to share this article as it encourages us to work harder and helps to reach more people.