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Time to invest in sportspersons: Bhutia

Olympian Lovlina Borgohain and Sarita Devi at the Sportstar North East Conclave in Guwahati.   | Photo Credit: RITU RAJ KONWAR

Sportstar hosted the first-ever North-East Sports Conclave here on Friday, with a host of speakers from different sports disciplines identifying vexing issues in the region and ways to handle them.

Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma, Chief Minister of Assam, shared his vision for sports development. “We have also sanctioned Rs 1,000 crore for further developing sports infrastructure in this fiscal year – the highest-ever allocation for the state – and work has already started in many projects." Anurag Thakur, Union Minister of Information & Broadcasting and Youth Affairs & Sports, delivered the keynote address virtually.

Mizoram Sports Minister Robert Romawia Royte said better infrastructure is key to the success of all sports in the North-East. "Infrastructure-wise, the gap [compared to other states] is still very wide," said Royte.

While football continues to be a popular sport for North-East, Meghalaya is also home to skilled archers. Asked what Meghalaya is doing to promote other sports, AIFF vice president Larsing Ming Sawyan said: "There is an integrated indoor stadium, which will have multiple sports. There is an input of Rs 300 crores towards sports infrastructure."

Tokyo 2020 Olympic medal winners — weightlifter Mirabai Chanu (silver medallist) and boxer Lovlina Borgohain (bronze medallist) also shared their journeys. Lovlina said, "Even now, many parents don't allow their daughters to play sports. I would tell them sports has a big future and you can make a career out of it."

Mirabai, on her part, spoke about drug problem among today's youth. "I request you all to think of your lives and families and turn over a new life. Please do not use drugs. Think of your state, your village and your family. If you try, you will succeed."

Meanwhile, in a panel discussion on the North-East becoming the sports hub of India, former Indian football captain Bhaichung Bhutia reiterated the need to invest in athletes. "It is time to invest in sportspersons, not just infrastructure. In North-East football, the efforts are from individual organisations or people, there's no support from the states. Today, when you play I League and ISL, you get a good salary package. It's unfortunate that other sports in India, besides cricket, don't give such financial benefits."

Manjusha, DGM Sports Indian Oil, concurred with Bhutia. "A lot needs to be done to get talent out of district and village level - that's where the power of sport lies. Infrastructure alone can't give champions; a structure can. Track talents from rural sides and bring them to the city."

The Conclave was held in association with the Directorate of Information and Public Relations Assam, IOC, SBI and LIC India.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2022 2:27:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/time-to-invest-in-sportspersons-bhutia/article37714054.ece

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