Shillong, Aug 29: Meghalaya has been underachieving in the sports arena and needs to do all it can for its athletes ahead of the 2nd North East Olympic Games, which will be hosted by Shillong in October-November, Chief Secretary Donald P Wahlang said today.

Wahlang was speaking at the National Sports Day 2022 celebration at U Soso Tham Auditorium here. NSD is held every year on this day, the birth anniversary of hockey player Major Dhyan Chand.

During the event, athletes from various disciplines were awarded cheques to recognise their success at regional, national and international competitions for 2018-19 and 2019-20. Sports achievers from 2017-18 were felicitated in July.

The U-14 boys’, U-17 girls’ and U-17 boys’ football teams that will represent Meghalaya at the upcoming Subroto Cup were also given a send-off.

In his speech as chief guest, Wahlang said that the “sportspersons have invested their time and energy to achieve success at international, national and regional events and the state government is happy in being able to recognise their efforts.”

However, when compared to other states, Meghalaya is lagging, especially in multi-disciplinary competitions. The state won just one bronze medal in June’s Khelo India Youth Games, which is still an improvement on the zero medals from the 2020 event. At the inaugural North East Olympics, in 2018, Meghalaya finished in only sixth position.

Justifiably, then, Wahlang said that “we’ve always been underachievers” but he also noted the recent talent identification programme conducted by the Directorate of Sports & Youth Affairs and Meghalaya State Olympic Association and had three sound suggestions for the DSYA.

Firstly, the Chief Secretary, a keen footballer himself, suggested that the Directorate institute scholarships for those who have the potential to become elite athletes but who otherwise might not be able to afford to give up a job in wholehearted pursuit of that aim. His second suggestion is that the DSYA also start an insurance scheme for athletes who might become injured through their sport, thereby giving them some support to fall back on. Thirdly, he felt that the DSYA should create academies of its own to support the development of young sportspersons.

(TSR photo)

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