Sports a neglected sector in West Garo Hills
I would like to share some thoughts on the present conditions of Sports in Garo Hills, Meghalaya. To start with, under the Department of Sports and Youth Affairs of Meghalaya a District Sports Office in every district has been set up where coaches and sports staff have been appointed wherever the District Sports Office (DSO) is located here in Garo Hills. All of them have been appointed particularly for contributing in their fields of expertise in helping and growing the sports amongst the youths of Garo Hills. But the sad part is that most of the so-called coaches or sports instructors are inactive throughout the year. Some are not even physically fit to be able to fulfil their coaching duties. Most of the staff of each DSO office are seen to be active only during January 26, August 15, Wangala Festival or when some sports cum exhibition matches are held just to entertain the general public. Otherwise it’s hard to see them coming forward and diligently imparting their expertise in the form of coaching on a regular basis.
Being hardcore sports enthusiast, the people of Garo Hills looks suited for contact sports say Judo, Boxing, Taekwondo, Kick Boxing, Wrestling, Long distance running and of course football. Not only this, I find games like Badminton being seriously played and followed at Williamnagar and Tura Indoor stadium even though both haven’t seen a coach till date from the inauguration of the said Indoor halls which is really hard to digest. Even without a Badminton Coach, Cyrus from Williamnagar won Gold in Badminton in the under-19 Boys Singles at the Meghalaya Games 2022 which speaks volume of the love for the game and dedication of the Association which has done a commendable job. Not only this, but sportspersons from Garo Hills won medals in Boxing, Taekwondo, Golf and Shooting events for which there are no coaches and proper facilities available at all. And another sport which needs special mention is Table Tennis at Tura Indoor stadium, Hawakhana which luckily has got a dedicated and sincere coach known to one and all – Mr. Rollingstone Sangma. The sacrifice, dedication, commitment and discipline with which Mr. Rollingstone Sangma conducts his coaching daily throughout the year amongst his handful of kids both boys and girls is a sight to behold for a sports enthusiast like me. It’s because of his hard work, discipline, persistence and his goals that his cadets dominated the Table Tennis under17 category in the recently concluded Meghalaya Games 2022 winning Gold, Silver and Bronze in Singles and Gold in Doubles (Boys names: Jeff, Ario and Vivek).
I hope and pray that the momentum of the Meghalaya Games result is carried for higher achievements at National and International levels in the near future. Why I have drawn attention to the Table Tennis coach here is that, if Rollingstone Sangma is contributing to the sports he has been appointed with such dedication, why can’t the other coaches do the same? What are the rest of the Sports Coaches doing after their appointment and what are their contributions till date? There should be yardsticks to justify the appointment of all coaches under the DSO. Then only will the sports scene in Garo Hills transform. Some might counter that they lack facilities and equipment and so on and so forth, but take the example of Badminton, Shooting, Boxing, Golf and Taekwondo that made it to the podium because of their hard work, dedication and love for the game alone.
The DSO of every district in Garo Hills needs to pull up their socks and lead by example, and then only can Garo Hills dream of becoming a Powerhouse in Sports like Manipur. I think now is the right time to cash in on the medal winners and carry the positive effects of Meghalaya Games 2022 to make it a base to progress for next year’s Meghalaya Games which is going to be held at Tura as announced by our Chief Minister, Conrad K. Sangma.
Jordan Ch. Marak,
Lum Shyllong blunder!
The caption of this letter may remotely allude to that famous non-fiction book, ‘The Himalayan Blunder’ penned by the late Brigadier, John P Dalvi ,who outlined the angry truth of India’s crushing military disaster in the Sino-India war of 1962. Conversely, the core implication of my critique is to conjure up the couldn’t-care-less stance of the then Hynniewtrep representatives regarding the share of job-quota reservations pegged at 40% for Khasi-Jaintia combined and 40% for the Garos respectively. Those leaders in question had been perchance in a tearing hurry to get plum positions in the newly born state whereby they might have kept mum at this critical issue that has adverse consequences for their ‘jaitbynriew’ in the process. It was indubitably a gargantuan blunder!
Interestingly, the North Shillong MLA, Adelbert Nongrum had recently brought into the limelight the hitherto flaws of this reservation regimen in Meghalaya, as he averred that the same could have been contextualised on the strength of population structure amongst the three principal tribes of Meghalaya and not on the existing format. A good number of our frustrated jobless youths could not have agreed more with what the North Shillong MLA contended. However, the Meghalaya State Assembly in its session has reportedly rejected such a proposal, thus sticking to the status quo!
Additionally, the Garos too wouldn’t bear to see any redo of the extant reservation quota if it impinges on their social interests. To bring home this contention, we had witnessed how, if my memory serves me right, in the 2000s they had vehemently objected to the purported move by the then dispensation to relocate the office of MBOSE from Tura to Shillong. In that agitation some even sacrificed their lives against the proposed maneuver. I can’t sée why such reverberations would not re-explode if any bid is made to recast the current reservations regime. Hence, any move to alter the same is next to impossible, and those who fancy a realignment to this effect shall end up crying over spilt milk for the die had since been cast; or as Julius Caesar had asserted ‘Alea iacta est’ in the year 49 BC. In a word, this festering issue has turned irreversible!
Perhaps, just perhaps, to usher in a reparation of over fifty years of the ongoing widespread discontentment amongst the Hynniewtrep jobless youths, a viable option, as I ‘ve been given to understand is to see that Meghalaya is bifurcated into the Hynniewtrep and the Achik states . And in the fullness of time, many opine, would be a win-win situation for the communities in question in overall holistic terms. Pertaining to this narrative, and in my interactions with some state government officials I’ve been informed that staff from Garo districts are constrained to travel to their respective Shillong head offices just to settle official exigencies like countersigning of Muster roll bills, acquisition of funds, submission of varied leaves, leave travel concession admissible before retirement, warranting fast track endorsement. Regrettably some have been deprived owing to procedural delay, final submission of pension papers and such other unforeseeable circumstances. For these official responsibilities, staff from Garo Hills have had to traverse hundreds of kilometers to Shillong, thus leading to loss of precious time, money etc. Essentially, therefore the Garos having their own capital in Tura would ameliorate these impediments for good. And arguably, in the fitness of things, the bifurcation of Meghalaya based on the foregoing concerns may perhaps end up as Shakespeare ‘s play ‘ All ‘s well that ends well!
Jerome K Diengdoh,