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Guwahati—The capital city for sports

Rukmini Barua Deka

From ancient times, sports activities have taken place in Assam, involving the entire northeastern states. Asia’s first amphitheatre is the 18th century Rangghar located at Sibsagar, Assam, which is a great architectural monument of the Ahom kingdom. Members of the royalty watched buffalo and elephant fights and other sporting events from the upper storey. The commoners watched them sitting in earthen mounds that once surrounded Rangghar.The hilly and rugged terrain protected Assam from foreign invaders in the days of yore. Today, Assam and the entire northeastern region has become an incomparable destination for all kinds of sports and adventurers interested in rafting, canoeing, kayaking, parasailing, paragliding, mountaineering, trekking, mountain biking, angling and more.

Giving the independence day address to the people of Assam at Khanapara, Guwahati, on 15th August, Sarbananda Sonowal, Chief Minister, Assam reiterated his aim of turning Guwahati into India’s sporting capital during his tenure. He said that the government of Assam has taken it as a challenge to transform the biggest northeastern city into a sporting hotbed. The government is working day and night to turn it into a reality as the youth of this region have enormous inherent talent that mostly goes unnoticed. The long journey to make Assam a global sports hub began by organising the South Asian Games. Organising international championships will take the city closer to that goal. Hard working sportspersons can help to shape a country’s image. If talent is properly harnessed, northeast India will be able to produce more sportspersons to represent the country in international championships.

The Indira Gandhi Athletic stadium, Sarusajai, Guwahati will be the main venue for FIFA  U-17 Football World Cup, 2017 which will kick off on October 6, 2017.This stadium can accommodate 23,850 people and will play host to witness the performance of frontrankimg teams like France, Japan, Mexico and Chile apart from new powerful teams like New Caledonia and Honduras. Javier Ceppi, Tournament Director of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) for FIFA  U-17 World Cup who is from Chile visited Sarusajai Athletic stadium on August 9. He was here to take stock of the infrastructure and the facelifting work that is going on it now to hold the U-17 World Cup. He interacted with the media and was happy to know about the participating teams.”France will be an attractive team, here, as Amine Gouiri, one of the players and the top scorer of UEFA U-17 Championships will shine like a rising star. Takefusa Rubo of Japan will play here who was the star of Barcelona Youth Ststem, the youngest scorer of the J-League”, said Ceppi.

Though Guwahati city lags behind Kolkata and Kochi in sale of tickets, the sale was high and strong in Phase 1 and Phase 2. Football is very popular in this part of the country and there is no doubt that the stadium will be filled up when the Championship kicks off, he added.

Guwahati city has also been selected to be the host to World Youth Women’s Boxing Championship which is scheduled to be held in November. A 3-member of the international Boxing body came for a 2-day visit to Guwahati city.  The team comprising of Selowati Hadi Soejono, Women’s Commission, Indonesia, Maruska Perrin, Competition Coordinator, AIBA and Breno Torres, Senior Competition Manager, AIBA, visited the main competition venue, the Nabin Chandra Bordoloi Indoor Stadium, Sarusajai and practice venues the Deshbhakta Tarun Ram Phookan Indoor Stadium in the R.G. Barooah Sports Complex and SAI Complex among others including the Hotels. They had a meeting with Sarbananda Sonowal, Chief Minister, Assam where senior officials of the sports and PWD department were also present. The visiting officials expressed their satisfaction seeing the sports infrastructure in the city for hosting the Championship. Sonowal urged the state government officials to complete the renovation work, soon in the venues to serve the players best.

“The officials were quite satisfied visiting hte Hotels.Radisson Blu will be the official Hotel. The teams will also be accommodated in Hotels that are situated in Khanapara, Beltola and Six Mile area of the city”,said Hemanta Kumat Kalita, Secretary,Assam State Boxing Association.

About 150 countries out of 205 AIBA affiiated nations will take part in the Championships. The facelifting work in the venues is expected to be complete  at the earliest. More teams of AIBA officials are likely to visit the city till the games begin.

The government of Assam is working rigorously to develop at least 500 state-of –the-art football fields in the state for holding matches simultaneously in all the venues.This is how the youth would be enabled to utilise their energies to meaningful vocations by themselves and also make essential components for the proposed sports capital. The government of Assam has framed a sports policy in consultation with the eminent sportspersons of Assam. That will help to unearth the hidden talents in rural areas, an initiative that will promote them from far flung areas.Guwahati will be transformed into a focal point for sports in the country and to that end the government has undertaken a slew of measures to fulfil. A Himalayan Region Sports Festival is also likely to be held besides these Championships

“By developing the spirit of sportsmanship, the potential of the country can be strengthened. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s advice is to shed sweat at least four times a day. The young players of this region should give up idleness and climb up the ladder for achieving success”, says Sonowal.

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