NATIONAL GAMES: It is an issue that India has not been able to have a regular National Games, something which is important for any nation because the National Games are conducted under the aegis of the Indian Olympic Association, which follows the charter of the International Olympics Committee.
By Joshua George
In what has already been a massive delay and slack for Goa to host the National Games, the Indian Olympic Association has sought the intervention of the ministry of youth affairs and sports to organize the National Games every two years.
Since 2002 when Hyderabad hosted the 2002 edition, only three more editions have been held; Assam 2007, Jharkhand 2011 and Kerala 2015. Goa was allocated to host the 36th National Games in 2008 after the Kerala edition. But repeated excused some of them cited as parliamentary and assembly elections, natural calamities etc have caused the postponement of the games.
These repeated delays have hampered training regimes and goals set by athletes, especially new athletes looking to carve out a name and career. Why aren’t there stringent deadlines and fines if a state isn’t able to host the games on times? This delay isn’t a matter of few weeks or couple of months but rather more than 5 years and counting.
For proper development of sports and promotion of Games, it is necessary to conduct the national games after an interval of every two years so that athletes can have right platform to compete during their sporting career, IOA general secretary Rajeev Mehta wrote in a letter to secretary, Union ministry of youth affairs and sports.
Since being allotted the sports portfolio by chief minister Pramod Sawant, new sports minister Govind Gaude took a stand contrary to the former sports minister Manohar Ajgaonkar who said the state is ready to host the games even at a short notice. I don’t think we are ready to host the national games. There are a lot of aspects about infrastructure. We are not prepared, we have to be make preparations and get ready,” Gaude told reporters after being made sports minister in April.
The new sports minister has welcomed his responsibilities hands on, carrying out several inspections and issuing notices to employees of the administration. However, it is farfetched to think that the ground work can be completed over night when the previous administration slacked.
Gaude also said that 85% of the infrastructure to host the games is ready. The much-delayed refurbishment of the swimming pools at Campal and Margao are set to be inaugurated later this month.
Goa is also one of the venues to host the U-17 women’s world cup. The state is set to host maximum number of matches including both the semi finals later this year. However, Gaude has set while the Goa maybe able to host the practice matches and host training facilities it is not ready for the world cup just yet.
This comes as a surprise as the state has been the host city for the last two editions of the ISL. The covid pandemic forced the AIIF to schedule the entirety of the tournament in Goa.
Hosting of the national games and the u-17 world cup would certainly improve the quality of infrastructure in the state, but consistent delays has not only cost the state money but also demoralized athletes who set goals to qualify and compete at the showcase event.
The state can’t continue with delays like this. There should be interference from the IOA that has the right to fine or move the event if facilities aren’t in place beyond a certain point. This will set a precedence for future events.