Sports : Making it to the news for right reasons:Talent scouters at the grassroot
One of the few reasons why Manipur makes it to the news for all the right reasons and one doesn’t need to look beyond the playing fields. Padma Vibhushan for Mary Kom, Padma Bhushan for O Bembem Devi and now all the way from Bishnupur district to Scotland to don the Rangers FC jersey for Bala Devi. Look beyond the three personalities and any ISL team will have a host of players from Manipur plying their trade and efforts are not lacking in cricket too, with many young players now representing the State for the Ranji Trophy and other important tournaments. National Sports University-it is in recognition of the immense talents and the good show put up by the young sportspersons that this university has been set up in Manipur and truly this is a reflection of the sports spirit that is inherent in almost everyone. A look through the newspapers published in Imphal will also reflect the numerous tournaments being held all the year through in different disciplines. Be it weightlifting, boxing, football, hockey, taekwondo, sepak takraw, you name it and one will find many players from Manipur plying their skills on the stage across the country. A day does not pass off without a tournament or a match being held and to repeat an earlier point here, just take a look at any of the newspapers published from Imphal and one will get a fair idea of how sports is a sort of a culture here.
All the way from Bishnupur district to Scotland to play for Rangers FC and Bala Devi’s journey may well reflect the sports culture of Manipur. If Mary Kom brought laurels to the country with her Bronze efforts at the London Olympics in 2012, then there have been others who will have rounded this up by playing for some of the top football clubs in India. Much before ISL, Manipur had players such as Kiron Khongsai, Gunabir, Lolendro, Somatai Shaiza turning out for the then biggest football clubs in the country such as Mohun Bagan, East Bengal etc. Given the way in which the people have taken to sports, the romance with sports will continue and this is where one needs to acknowledge the role of the talent spotters at the grassroots level. Not much fame and no glamorous team to back them, but it is these talent scouters who have been nurturing and moulding the young players and their positive role should not be overlooked. In N Biren, Manipur has a Chief Minister who once earned a name for himself plying his skills on the football field and making a name for himself and perhaps no one will understand the importance of the publicity shy coaches and talent scouters at the grass root level.