Imphal: The Khuman Lampak sports complex here is a sprawling affair. In this dusty valley, the capital of Manipur, and amid the zillions of machine-gun toting security personnel, the soccer stadium, hosting the 58th national football championship for the LG Santosh Trophy seems like an oasis.
The insurgents have in the past declared unilateral ceasefires for sporting events. Sports is a happening thing in Imphal — and not necessarily the cricket variety, but those which need muscle. Even the security personnel are hooked to it (very little of the Calcutta Test in evidence).
To that extent, the championship has come as a great blessing for the locals, what with peace, however transient, around. Not everywhere, yet, though. That the enforcement of a law can be judged in its breach, was evident with the last quarter final group league match (Manipur versus Tamil Nadu) Wednesday when the 17,000 capacity stadium saw an influx of nearly 30,000.
Forget Fifa and AFC rules regarding in-fencing seating capacity (those names make little sense here), no security arangement can be foolproof if the organisers fail to stick to closed gates after match-start.
Manipur matches have been drawing record crowds, pushing facilities to the limit. The saving grace has been the sporting behaviour of the crowd so far. One hopes this stays.