If you are determined, dedicated and have love for sport, nobody can stop you from reaching the heights.
This is what Manipur pugilists M.C. Mary Kom and L. Devendro Singh have proved in London 2012. The duo have never enjoyed the privilege their counterparts from other parts of the world take for granted from the very beginning. It is absolutely because of these factors that the two Indian boxers have reached the highest level.
Magnificent Mary fits the shoulders of Mary Kom deservedly. Any other person in her condition would have given up on her career a long time back. But the mother of twins returned to the ring after a two-year sabbatical in the Asian meet in Guwahati in 2008 and then went onto win as many as five world titles. I salute her for her will to win.
She is fortunate that women’s boxing is introduced at the right time. I have always observed her very closely and seen she was determined right from the very first day. As soon as the announcement of the inclusion of the discipline was made, she was ready to make it to London and win a medal, which the gifted pugilist did.
As for Devendro — a Sports Authority of India find — I have always called him a dark horse. The Dark Knight rose at the ExCeL Arena to make the region doubly proud.
He shares the same attributes with Magnificent Mary and he will definitely shine because of his focus, dedication and love for the sport.
As far as the Northeast is concerned, it is definitely the richest talent pocket in the country but the potential is yet to be exploited in the right manner. Of late, SAI has been contributing towards grooming archers and boxers and the yield is for all to acknowledge.
But there is no dearth of talent in racquet sports, athletics and other fields in the region. For instance, badminton and table tennis are dominated by the Mongoloid race across the world and the majority of the people of the region belong to the same stock.
Similarly, Africans dominate the track events across the world and Assam has them in its very own but neglected pockets called the char areas. The people of these areas, irrespective of their religion and race, have genetic resemblance with Africans and can be very easily groomed to be long-distance runners and sprinters.
The need of the hour is talent scouting by sports associations at the grassroots level and taking help of the Centre as well as state governments to groom them. It is a fact that neither any state government nor the Centre can develop sports alone. It has to be a collective effort including that of the media.
Sportspersons are not produced but born and they need to be groomed in the right manner for them to become great.
Since the days of Talimeren Ao, the region has fielded as many as 21 Olympians, of whom 15 were groomed by SAI under its schemes introduced since the first regional sub-centre was set up in Guwahati in 1987.
Keeping in view the abundant talent potential in the Northeast, the sports association can take the initiative of setting up more centres in the region and the country, where more players can be groomed.
Being associated with SAI myself, I can guarantee if the number of SAI centres are increased to four times its present strength, India can dominate at Rio Olympics in 2016 with sportspersons from the region.
By collective effort, I also mean corporate support. The corporate sector in the region hardly supports development of sport. Sponsoring a few tournaments and employing sportspersons does not mean supporting sport.
The corporate support should be utilised in grooming them by creating infrastructure, implementing coaching schemes, providing equipment to the talented players.
Merely providing employment in corporate houses cannot help develop sport. It is in a way spoiling the career of a player, if he is not given the required logistical support.
The honest implementation of Panchayat Yuva Krida Aur Khel Abhiyan is another scope the states can utilise to groom more and more Devendro Singhs and Mary Koms.
• The writer is the director
in-charge of SAI regional
centre in Guwahati.