The 2nd North East Olympic Games 2022 needs complete community support to make it a grand success and the association representing the traditional headmen of Khasi-Jaintia Hills, Ka Synjuk Ki Nongsynshar Shnong Ka Bri U Hynniewtrep (SNSBH), is doing its part in getting their neighbourhoods on board.
Apart from football, which begins on Monday, the Games will officially open on 10th November and run to 16th November with the participation of thousands of athletes from all eight states of the North East.
A meeting in this regard was held with the Rangbah Shnongs (headmen), led by Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma, last week. Also present were other senior officials, including Additional CEO of NEOG 2022 and Secretary to the government, Cyril VD Diengdoh, and East Khasi Hills Deputy Commissioner, Isawanda Laloo.
“Sports is an area where the State Government has been working hard to ensure that more opportunities are given to our youth,” Sangma said. “Our youth have huge talent but they are not able to unlock that talent and win medals that many other states in the North East do. This cannot change in a single day as the fruits take time to bear. We have to invest time and resources and nurture and guide our youths in this. Hence, from 2018, this Government has focused on creating the right policy so that sport moves in the right direction.”
As an example, the CM highlighted the introduction of a Sports Policy and separate Youth Policy under his administration and the increase in awards for athletes who win gold medals at the National Games from Rs 7,000 before to Rs 2.5 lakh now. The Meghalaya government has now instituted systematic ways of rewarding athletes, is supporting sports associations, created long-term plans for the construction of new infrastructure and introduced a scientific process to identify talent in the youth.
“Manipur hosted the National Games 20 years back and that hosting sowed the seeds for a process to come in, a culture of sports came to Manipur and the government invested in it and allowed the process to grow. After 15-20 years you see their level of success today. A lot of these things are now happening in Meghalaya and a lot more needs to be done,” the Chief Minister said.
One of the main reasons that Meghalaya wanted to host the 2nd North East Olympic Games this year is to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the state. In addition, the Government aims to give the state’s youth ample opportunity to participate in an event the likes of which Meghalaya has not hosted before and follow their dreams and passions.
Speaking to the headmen, the CM said, “For any programme to be successful, the entire society needs to participate. Let us figure out how to make the Games the best in the North East so that when the visitors leave here, they remember this for the rest of their lives as being the best organised and most hospitable Games. We want this feeling for each of the 4,000 people coming here. That depends on each of you. We need to make the people feel welcome and so we seek your support and cooperation so that we have the localities together with one voice for the Games.”
This message was reiterated by Diengdoh, who said that the success of the Games depends on participation of all stakeholders. “We want it to be as inclusive as possible so that our youth are inspired to watch these Games, to actively participate and welcome the athletes from the other North East states.”
In this vein, the Meghalaya government will support the localities with locality beautification projects, roadshows and mini-carnivals so that the message of the Games is taken forwards.
“Since all the Rangbah Shnongs have always worked together with the district administration, we have been requested to join hands and make the Games a grand success,” SNSBH General Secretary, RL Blah, said. “This is a very important event since it is the first of its kind in Meghalaya and also coincides with the 50th anniversary of our state.
Blah also said that in today’s world there is a lot of opportunity for youngsters for a career in sports. On the enhancement of awards to successful athletes, he added, “This award and recognition will boost the morale of our younger generation and we hope that the coming of the North East Olympic Games to Shillong will further boost the younger generation and get them to value talent and sports.”