Guwahati/Imphal, May 27: The Northeast’s sports fraternity today billed the assignment of youth affairs and sports portfolio to Assam MP Sarbananda Sonowal as a fresh lease of life to sports in the region.
This is the first time an MP from the region has been designated the minister of state for sports. Barring cricket, the Northeast can boast of talent in almost all other disciplines: contact sport, football and archery being the most prominent. Appreciating Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “choosing the right person from the right region”, Olympic bronze medallist boxer M.C. Mary Kom said she would look forward to Sonowal taking the initiative for sports infrastructure development in the Northeast.
“For Manipur in particular, I would like him to get the sportspersons’ railway concessional ticketing outlet back in Imphal and installation of passport office or booth for sportspersons in Imphal because these aspects involve unnecessary expenditure,” she said.
Arjuna awardee athlete from Assam Bhogeswar Barua expressed happiness too. Barua, who also heads the Assam chapter of the Clean India Sports Movement, said he expected Sonowal to work towards reforms in sports administration in the country.
“The sports fraternity will expect a lot from Sonowal. I hope he will take the initiative in laying special emphasis on exploiting the potential in this part of the country, which is a powerhouse. This is being considered the beginning of a new era in sports in the Northeast,” Barua said.
Arjuna awardee from Assam, Monalisha Baruah Mehta, wished Sonowal the very best for his assignment and said, “We will expect him to work for the sportspersons of the Northeast because we have always been a deprived lot. Our sportspersons are often forced to take the back seat in the national arena. I hope his advent to the helm of affairs will bring an end to discriminations.”
About Assam’s prospects, the Mumbai-based former table tennis champion said, “We have the infrastructure in Assam and I think he can help Assam, in particular, become a sporting destination of the nation.”