President of India Droupadi Murmu today inaugurated the 5th Meghalaya Games 2024 marking the commencement of the State’s marquee multisport event in a splendid ceremony held at the PA Sangma Stadium in Tura.
In her inaugural address, Murmu paid her homage to Late Purno A. Sangma, former Chief Minister of Meghalaya, and the first tribal speaker of the Lok Sabha and also the first speaker from North East.
“There is an urgent need to support the talent from the tribal areas and groom them to become professional sports persons. I am happy to note that the society of North East encourages women to play and join sports as a profession. I am confident that the Meghalaya Games will encourage athletes for excellence, promote competitiveness and create a vibrant sporting ecosystem,” she said.
The President then lauded the performers at the opening ceremony, who braved the cold, and some stood bare bodied in their traditional attire for three to four hours waiting. “It shows the great sportsman spirit,” she said.
The President expressed happiness that the society of North East encourages women to play and join sports as a profession. She said that the North East region has produced many great women athletes. She also underlined the potential of adventure sports and adventure tourism in this region and the need to explore and leverage it on priority.
The President said that India’s sporting culture has developed immensely in recent years. She said that with the government’s new initiatives and encouragement to the athletes, Indian sportspersons are now winning more medals than ever in global events.
Murmu also said that programmes such as Khelo India are helping in identifying and nurturing future sports champions. She said that India has also demonstrated its ability to host large scale international sporting and other events.
The President urged children and youth to learn at least one sport and participate in sports activities. She said that they may or may not adopt sports as a career but playing together will inculcate team spirit and competitiveness in their personality apart from keeping them physically and mentally fit.
The President said that the decision of the government to hold these games in different parts of the State is a welcome step and would ensure wider reach of such events among masses. She expressed confidence that the events like Meghalaya Games will encourage athletes for excellence, promote competitiveness and create a vibrant sporting ecosystem.
Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, thanked the President for inaugurating the Meghalaya Games on her maiden visit to Meghalaya.
“These games are not just an event but an investment in the most important asset of Meghalaya – the youth of Meghalaya. The returns on this investment will be there for the generations to come. Creating opportunities for them to excel in sports and other fields of human achievement is the single most priority of our government,” he said.
“We are in the process of building new sports infrastructures at every level. We have ensured that the youth channelise their potential in the right direction,” Sangma said while thanking all the members across different committees who worked tirelessly to make the Meghalaya Games successful.
Sports Minister Shakliar Warjri in his speech termed the 5th Meghalaya Games as a vibrant tapestry woven from the tireless efforts of departments, volunteers, and young athletes.
“The emblem of this event, the Hill Mynah, aptly reflects the spirit of Meghalaya. Its wings, emblazoned with the Olympic flame and the colours of our diverse tribes, symbolise not only aspiration but also unity,” he added.
Meghalaya Games, reinstated in 2021-22 after a hiatus of 16 years, not only revived but also highlighted the traditional sports of the State. Thereby, participants across all the districts of Meghalaya will take part in the three traditional games, namely Mawpoin (A Khasi traditional game, where two teams try to raise a pyramid of stones and get all the opposing team members ‘out’), Rah Mukhrah (A Jaintia traditional Game where the competitors carry a raw heavy rounded rock to the finishing line achieving the title of ‘Ki Mar’) and Wa’pong Sika (A Garo traditional game, where two teams compete to push a bamboo pole towards the opponent’s goal post.).
The 5th Edition of the Meghalaya Games, to be held till January 20 in Tura, promises to be the largest gathering of athletes yet, with over 3000 participants competing across 22 sporting disciplines. This includes two demonstration sports, sport climbing, and softball.