Shillong, Apr 1: The three-day first Elite Pathway Programme camp began at the SAI Centre in NEHU here today. It is being organised by the Meghalaya State Olympic Association in collaboration with the Department of Sports & Youth Affairs.

Cabinet minister AL Hek was the chief guest and Chief Secretary Donald P Wahlang the guest of honour. Senior officials from the MSOA, led by its Working President John F Kharshiing and General Secretary Finely L Pariat, were also present on the occasion.

The chief resource persons were former Australian Olympian Ian Campbell of EDGE10 and ARMS PT and former Denmark World Cupper and Manchester United footballer Jesper Olsen of Future Football.

The athletes called for the camp comprise the best 200 out of 4,500 that were tested at the district level. They were selected based on their performance in a series of standardised tests according to set benchmarks.

For the Shillong camp, these benchmarks were raised and the youngsters still performed exceedingly well in many cases.

The tests included a vertical jump, ‘compass drill’, 10m ladder run and 20m sprint. Olsen also conducted a session on football.

Speaking on the occasion, Hek described the experience as an eye opener. “I’ve never seen these kinds of devices which can identify future players from our state of Meghalaya. In the years to come I hope that all of you here will be our stars, you will bring laurels to your state, family and society so that the rest or the world sees that Meghalaya can also produce international athletes,” he said.

The minister also laid emphasis on the importance of self-awareness as a determinant of attitude which plays a part in whether how high we can reach.

Wahlang described the athletes present as lucky to have the benefit of such technology and in their own state. He recounted that he had also undergone similar tests some 40 years ago in Patiala but those were low tech and the results could be a little subjective compared to the objective results that arrive out of the use of technology.

Kharshiing, in his opening remarks, thanked the state government for its continued support in this programme and reminded the young athletes of the tremendous opportunities and benefits introduced by the government in recent times, such as the sports scholarships on offer and the cash awards instituted for successful athletes.

Campbell informed the gathering that many of the benchmarks had been “smashed” today and urged the youngsters to keep giving their best in the days to come.

(Meghalaya State Olympic Association photo)

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