Playing Games with Sports?
Dozens of sporting events are conducted in Nagaland every year, especially during winter season, and this year is no exception. Last month saw the state’s cricket team captain Jonathan Rongsen score a double century in the Test match against Bihar in Ranji Trophy (plate group), a feat that no batsman from Northeast India has achieved so far. His performance was commendable as cricket is one sport that people of the state seem to have least interest in. It is evident from the recent performances of the state team at various tournaments that roping in big names like Stuart Binny, who played for the Indian cricket team and IPL, by the Nagaland Cricket Association has boosted the confidence of the team. Besides cricket, the state’s football team put up a spirited show at the recently concluded North East Dr. T Ao Trophy. The team might have failed to lift the coveted trophy but they won the hearts of the spectators on their way to the semi-finals before eventually winning the third prize.
While the strides made in cricket and football are commendable, we should not fail to look at the larger picture and check our standing at the national level, if not the world. The state stands nowhere in both the sports. While it is still placed in plate group in cricket, it is behind many states in football too though home to the captain of first Indian Olympic football team. That’s not all. Nagaland failed to win even a single medal at the recent Khelo India Youth Games 2020 in Guwahati where Maharashtra topped the tally with 256 medals, followed by Haryana with 200 and Delhi with 122. Among the north-eastern states, Assam topped the tally with 76 medals, followed by Manipur with 54. Other states from the region won at least a medal or more except Nagaland and Meghalaya. This is the true picture of the state in sports. And many may ask questions like: Why is the state lagging behind other states in sports? Are the youths of the state not talented? Is it because of lack of infrastructure?
Well, state-of-the-art infrastructure is necessary to compete at the highest level and to beat the best; there comes the need for the Centre as well as the state governments to provide good facilities to sportspersons. However, there is more to successful sportspersons than just good infrastructure. Most of them share qualities like hard work, discipline, perseverance and sportsmanship. Youths from the state should not rest, or become complacent after participating in a sports event. Instead, they need to pull up their socks again the next morning and practice. That’s what successful people do and that’s what they also should do to win. Those satisfied with “good” will never succeed in sports because one has to be the best to win. Only one person comes out champion in a race.