Shillong, April 22: The Meghalaya State Olympic Association has appealed to the Sports Authority of India (SAI) to take necessary steps to get the North East Games recognised by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and the North Eastern Council directly associated with it.
Speaking to The Telegraph on the sidelines of the ongoing 24th North East Games here, Meghalaya State Olympic Association (MSOA) general secretary D. Syiemlieh said the annual meet was yet to shed its “festival” tag primarily because it is not recognised by the IOA.
“It was a welcome initiative when it was rechristened North East Games instead of the erstwhile North East Sports Festival. However, the attitude of the organisers as well as the participants unfortunately remained as amateurish as before,” Syiemlieh observed.
“Unless it is recognised by the IOA and the state Olympic associations are involved, the attitude of the participants will not change because the medals and certificates in this meet are till now just ornamental. The SAI should take immediate steps to get it recognised by the IOA and get it organised more professionally,” he added.
The meet is now organised by the state directorates of sports or the state sports councils with partial funding from SAI. The state sports associations are involved in selecting the state teams and technical conduct only.
Syiemlieh further said the North Eastern Council should be directly involved with the Games as far as infrastructure development is concerned. “The council’s vast resources are not being properly utilised for development of sports in the region which is brimming with talent,” he said.
“I think the meet should be held like the National Games at an interval of two or three years and the council should fund infrastructure development in the host states. That way the state will benefit as well,” the veteran organiser said.
The current meet is being held where football matches are played on totally under prepared grounds, athletics without any synthetic track and basketball on concrete outdoor courts.
Barring Assam and Manipur, who have hosted National Games, there is no synthetic track and maplewood-floor indoor stadia in the region.
Asked if the MSOA have any plans to bid for the National Games, Syiemlieh said: “We would definitely like to. But first of all the state government will have to increase the budgetary allocation for sports. We need to have some infrastructure which we can project in the bid.”
“As far as talent is concerned, there is no denying that Meghalaya is a talent pocket for the entire nation which is yet to be fully explored and exploited. Infrastructure development can help produce a host of sportspersons from the state for the country,” he added.
Although SAI has taken the initiative for the creation of a state-of-the-art set-up here, it will be able to cater to only a handful of talented sportspersons from across the state.