Former India international footballer and now Mawphlang MLA, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, was highly critical over the mess that the ongoing Meghalaya Games has been embroiled in over dirty toilets and poor accommodation for athletes.
In a huge embarrassment for the organisers and state government, photos of absolutely filthy toilets went viral and the problem was compounded after more photos were shown of athletes having to take baths in the open and with others having to sleep in damp rooms.
Speaking to Highland Post today, Lyngdoh, who has also played for top football clubs in the country, like Bengaluru FC, Pune City, ATK and East Bengal, said that it is high time that the sport scenario in Meghalaya is taken seriously, whether it is being handled at the district, state or national level and whether it is being organised by a sports association or the government.
Lyngdoh, who was present at the opening ceremony of the Meghalaya Games 2022 yesterday where Meghalaya State Olympic Association officials apologised to the athletes for the poor accommodation, said that it is ridiculous to talk about the upliftment of the youth when the conditions they have to put up with are beyond words.
If this incident is not an eye-opener for the government, then an uncertain future awaits the youth of the state, he added.
As a youngster, he also had to sleep on a thin mattress on the floor during tournaments but he said that, back then, he and his team mates considered that to be the norm and his love of football trumped all else.
“This has been happening ever since and because we were brought up like this we thought that this is what we have to go through,” Lyngdoh said.
However, no parent would want their children to have to live in such conditions, even for a few days and those athletes who have the potential to represent their state at higher levels or even internationally would think twice if they have to endure such a scenario. To encourage potential athletes, the sportspersons have to be provided with the best possible infrastructure, he added.
Echoing similar views, Lyngdoh’s United Democratic Party (UDP) colleague, Jemino Mawthoh, termed the preparations as embarrassing.
He said that when the aim is to attract the youth into productive activities such as sports, then the level of preparation by the government should not have been such a miserable failure.
“This needs to be addressed appropriately and let this not be repeated. The government needs to make infrastructure, incentives and other needs of athletes a priority,” he told HP. “When so much money has been spent then everything should have been well prepared for the athletes.” The government has earmarked some Rs 2 crore for the Games.
He further said that this should be a wake-up call for the government to not only talk but also deliver.