Sanasam Yaiphaba Singh
It is an interesting perspective to have a discussion on the interrelationship between sports and environment in the process of sports promotion and development in a state like Manipur. The performances of Manipur, a tiny state, which has less than 0.3 % population of the country, outperformed all the big states in the National Games and managed to respectively get 1st position in 1999 (Imphal),3rd in 2001(Punjab), 4th in 2002 (Hyderabad), 2nd in 2007 (Guwahati), again 2nd in 2011(Jharkhand) and 7th in 2012 (Kerala) in terms of medal tally. This is in despite the fact that a good numbers of the players of the state represented the Services and other states.The State has already produced 17 Olympians 19 Arjuna and 03 Khel Ratna Awardees.
Therefore, Manipur is considered as powerhouse of sports and the sports capital of India. In Manipur sports and indigenous games have been closely related with its culture, tradition, administration, history, ecology and environment of the state.It was rightly stated, “Physically a fine race, Manipuris are devoted to sports and games.For the lover of sport the valley is a veritable Paradise”. ‘The men seem capable of learning anything and women are famous weavers”. It was also observed that ‘they are homogenous people of great activity and energy, with much of the Japanese aptitude for acquiring new arts.”
Ecology and environment of a particular state or region influence the development and promotion of sport activities in the area. There are different regions with different ecology and environment. Manipur is one of the regions which endow suitable condition to live in and play. The state has ranges of beautiful hills, sufficient rivers, lakes, trees, birds, wild animal, flowers, orchids, and it has sub-tropical temperate climate with a rainfall of 1325.7 mm.in 2018. Therefore the State has a salubrious climate.
The valley of the state which is about 2,238 sq.km encircled by nine hill ranges is a beautiful oval shaped valley where most of the sport activities have been performing. The literacy rate was 76.94 % in 2011.The percentage of youth in the age group of 15-35 years was about 35 out of the total population in 2001.
One of the major environment factors which has direct bearing on sports of the region was that the people used to go on foot to attend schools, and they have often climb the surrounding hills to cut and collect minor forest products besides occasional walks which made their muscles powerful to run and lift. The movement of the body in and against the gravity make them fit and endurance to meet any physical eventuality. In fact ‘hungry or not they are always ready to march,and march all day and all night, if necessary. Other factors related to the sports are moisture and fresh air prevailing in the state. Manipur has 708 wetlands including 15 rivers/streams and 15 lakes accounting to 62 and 26 percent respectively of the whole area of wetland. The people living in the hot and dry region may have the issue of the loss of moisture in the body which not so in Manipur. There is no problem of lack of pure air needed for oxygen intake of the people in Manipur.The state is a junction of two ecological hotspots and it has a rich biodiversity in terms of fauna and flora.A remark in this regard may be mentioned that “I know nothing more lovely in the world, than some of the forest scenery of Manipur with its solemn stillness (James Johnstone).
Sport veteran of Manipur L Lokeshore Singh of Manipur said that the climate and availability of nutritious foods are the natural ingredients for making the Manipuris fine sports persons. R.K. Madhuryajit Singh also stated that the geographical location and the climate have great influence to the living conditions and habits of the people. In fact, it would be an unmistakable analogy that sports talent of the state has direct relationship with the population of the local environment in which they are living.
The sport disciplines in which our people have laurelled the state and the nation with their outstanding performances in the national and the international sport events including the Olympic games with the Khel Ratana and the Ajurna Awardsare weightlifting, boxing, hockey, Judo, Wushu, Archery and football. It is, therefore, imperative that these games have been well suited to the people and the environment of the region.
It would be interesting to examine some of the sport disciplines which are well suited to our area and people in the perspective of the historical dimension of traditional games, socio-cultural, socio-political and other social practices.There are a number of indigenous games for baby, children, youths, male and female.The indigenous games of the people have been directly or indirectly associated with ceremonies, rituals and festivals of the state. Many of the games are more or less related to the indigenous martial arts. The traditional games of Mukna (indigenous wrestling),Muknakangjei (wrestling-cum-foot hockey), Lamjen (race), Sarit-Sarat, Thang-Ta (indigenous martial arts), Manipuri Polo (Sagol Kangjei) etc. are some of them which are closely related to the above modern disciplines of the games in which our sportspersons achieved excellent performance. As these traditional games were associated with the martial arts, there were chance of injury during the play, but the people played with dignity and a sense of propriety even with or without specific rules, and as such there was less chance of sport violence.
The present discussion is a practical approach towards the influence of ecology and environment on sport in the state which would aware the responsibility of the people for maintaining a sustainable environment from the point also of keeping up with the standard of the sport activities in Manipur.
The writer is Ph.D. Scholar:Centre for Manipur Studies, Manipur University. He can be reached at [email protected]