Sikkim’s under developed sports facilities: The irony of a sports loving state

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Sikkim has witnessed a dismal performance in sporting events in recent years. The state’s won a sole bronze medal at Khelo India, a national sporting event held in Guwahati.

So, what has ailed our sports? Is the state’s focus on only certain games to be blamed or are we lacking any serious thoughts on policy to encourage various sports? The results at Khelo India gamesshows that there is an emergency to be attended in the field of sports overall.

“It certainly is a cause of worry for everyone that Sikkim has not performed well during the recent games at Guwahati. It is time that we do a reality stock of the way we look at sports, especially competitive ones at grass root level”, says noted columnist Dewakar Basnet.

He adds that the present government’s focus on sports at the rural level is appreciated and hopefully, the state would be able to perform better in the future with better strategy, motivation and support at ground level.
He has also congratulated the sole medal winner from Sikkim hoping that his win will inspire many in the days to come.

18-year-old Manish Rai (name changed) had a dream to represent Sikkim in the national arena in the field of volleyball. However, he, like many others claim that there is no serious thought on the promotion of this sport.
“As of now apart from some privately organised tournaments. I am yet to see a proper selection for this sport in Sikkim”, he tells.

Many sports are ailing in Sikkim; notable ones include basketball, badminton, tennis (long and short), chess and even football.
The recent controversy of footballers dissatisfaction with the state’s football association and the ugly war of words that followed represents a deep-rooted rot that has seeped into the system which was never acknowledged before.

Football has the most fans in Sikkim, but local football, both in Sikkim and Darjeeling hills is facing lots of challenges. Good grounds, stadiums, coaches – the three basic necessities are alarmingly lacking.

Players are no doubt talented, but they always have to go outside and play, as there is an acute lack of professional clubs in our region. Many clubs from Sikkim have tried to compete at the highest level, but after a certain point when one enters I League division 2 and I League, one needs big sponsors as the club needs a minimum of Rs 5 cr to form a decent team in the I League- which is peanuts as compared to bigger clubs.

The lack of big industries in our region and football as a sport being backed by private sponsors, clubs find it hard to attract sponsors
“What I feel is, if the players can play from their hometown clubs where they can stay with their families, their performance will be even better”, says a seasoned footballer.

Athletics is another field in Sikkim that is lagging behind as there is not a single proper athletics stadium. The much talked about Khel Gaon in Ranka has worn out running tracks with no proper maintenance.
“We don’t need too many big stadiums, what we need is a simple ground”, says Sonam Bhutia (name changed), an athlete.

While Sikkim has been achieving greater heights in many fields and is also looked upon as one of the fastest developing states of the nation, it is ironic that this uber developing state has many such loopholes that still awaits to be filled.

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