Shillong, Oct 19: The opposition Trinamool Congress has laid into the state government over Meghalaya’s poor performance at the National Games 2022, in which the state bagged zero medals.

In this, Meghalaya was only in the company of Nagaland and the Union territories of Ladakh, Lakshadweep and Dadra, Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu.

Today at a football match in his Rangsakona constituency, former Sports & Youth Affairs Minister Zenith Sangma criticised the “drastic failure”.

“During my tenure as Sports Minister, we brought in policies like the District Sports Promotion Societies with a yearly budget allocation of Rs 5 crore,” he said. “It was allocated to build sports facilities, like district sports clubs, instructors’ clubs and many others. However, the scheme was unfortunately discontinued post-2018 (when the current government took charge).”

At this year’s edition of the National Games, which were held in Gujarat and ended on 12th October, North East sporting giants Manipur finished ninth with 50 medals in all (20 gold, 10 silver, 20 bronze). Assam were 14th with 28 medals (9G, 10S, 9B) and Arunachal Pradesh 16th with 7 (6G, 1S). Tripura, in 25th position, managed 2 gold and a bronze, Mizoram (joint 28th) 1 gold, 1 silver and 2 bronze and even Sikkim (32nd) picked up a bronze to at least come away with something.

“Given the mandate, we will do our best to create opportunities for our sports-loving people by bringing in the best Sports Policy for our youth, which appears to be lacking these days,” Sangma said.

Recently, sitting Sports & Youth Affairs Minister Banteidor Lyngdoh said that the seeds of future success are only being sown under the current administration, with the government pledging hundreds of crores of rupees for infrastructure upgrades and financial rewards for athletes.

However, the TMC’s state youth wing hit out at the minister’s justifications, saying that Meghalaya appears to be going backwards, having won three medals in 2015 and none today.

In 2021-22, the state’s allocation for the Department of Sports & Youth Affairs was Rs 200 crore, while the Centre released Rs 170 crore solely for the 39th National Games, which Meghalaya was meant to host this year but which have been postponed.

“He (Lyngdoh) has openly admitted that there are no professional coaches for training the athletes in various sports disciplines,” a TMC press release said today, adding that the minister’s statement was “grossly self-contradictory”.

“It is a sad state of affairs that our Sports Minister says that Rs 200 crore has been allocated to the Sports Department for the development of sports infrastructure and other related facilities but, sadly, the ground reality does not reflect this,” TMC Meghalaya Students’ Union president Bansharailang Pyngrope said.

Referring to the condition of the state athletes, he added, “We need to provide our sportspersons with the proper facilities like training, guidance and, most importantly, proper nutrition. However, our government has failed even in providing the basic facility of proper coaching to our youth.”

The party questioned whether the state government could adequately account for the hundreds of crores in spending. “This is merely another feather added in the MDA government’s misutilisation of funds,” the TMC press release added.

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