Nagaland sports in shambles, coaches cry for attention

Nagaland sports in shambles, coaches cry for attention
(Top) A non-existent in-house plumbing and purification amenity implies using makeshift water filtration process at the girls’ quarters for athletics and sepak takraw at Kuda, Dimapur. (Bottom) A rotting ceiling at the boys’ hostel (football), which is located within the State Stadium complex in Dimapur.


‘Not a single kit, training equipment provided this year’


Morung Express News
Dimapur | November 26


Promoting a dedicated sports culture has been a recurring feature of public speeches delivered by the powers that be of Nagaland in any sports event.


On the contrary, the seemingly encouraging words are matched only with outright neglect if one is confronted with the facilities provided by the state government.


None of the government-run sports academies in the state has received basic player kits and training equipment for the year, alleged Sports coaches employed by the state government (Department of Youth Resources & Sports) to the media today in Dimapur. It is normally the practice for the government to annually supply training equipments and other kits to athletes enrolled in the handful of state-run sports academies.


As per the Nagaland Sports Coaches Association (NSCA), the grievances do not end there. Diet is a big issue at the current allowance of only Rs. 150 per person per day.


Besides the dearth of training aids, it alleged that there are no proper training fields for the seven sports disciplines that currently have academies, while there are no first aid facilities. Accommodation for the enrolled athletes is also pathetic.


While training is one aspect, exposure for the athletes is just as important. However, the NSCA said that the academies get no fund to enable the athletes to regularly participate in competitive events outside the state. “The students (athletes) are willing but there is no budget for participating in tournaments,” was how one of the coaches summed it up.


In this regard, the NSCA cited the football academies as an instance. “The footballers in the two academies at the most get to participate in one tournament in an entire year.”


The football academy for girls in Kohima has yet to have a proper training field with the players compelled to train in a derelict hockey ground.


Pointing to the divide between Nagaland and its two neighbouring states – Assam and Manipur – in terms of governmental sincerity, another coach commented that the sports authorities in the two states even go to the extent of enabling air travel for its athletes, whereas “we cannot even afford our players second class train travel.”


The state government’s spending on sports equipment would further give an idea of the divide or rather disinterest. The NSCA disclosed that the budget allocation for 2016-17 for procuring sports equipment was a miserly Rs. 2 lakhs. This amount would hardly pay for buying a standard bow for the archery academy, it added.


“Coaches are to provide the requisite training materials in the field but we are unable to… if the government is this negligent, we are helpless.”


Asked whether they have reminded the government of the pending basic equipments, the NSCA said that it had sent a written appeal in October but no response has been forthcoming till date.


“Our intention is to let the people of Nagaland know and remind the government of our grievances and of the prevailing sports scenario,” the NSCA said.


Aside from a handful to have made it big through sports, the NSCA said that many other sportspersons, who have excelled in their chosen field, are today struggling to make ends meet; forced to retire well before time because of a clear lack of incentive to continue.


The NCSA cited the state’s sports policy adopted way back in the 1980s, which it held is still to be implemented in letter and in spirit. The policy includes employment incentives (5 percent reservation) for those who excel.


Nagaland presently has government-run academies for seven sports disciplines in Kohima and Dimapur. Two academies or ‘hostels’ for football (boys & girls) in Kohima and Dimapur and one each for Taekwondo, sepak takraw, athletics, boxing, archery and wrestling. The current enrolment, as per the NSCA, stands at 211.


There are six other disciplines – handball, volleyball, badminton, lawn tennis and basketball – identified to have potential in but governmental assistance to these disciplines are said to be as good as lifeless.