Shillong: Meghalaya Sports Minister Banteidor Lyngdoh was on Thursday left momentarily clueless when MLA Eugeneson Lyngdoh questioned the sports minister concerning the state’s sports policy.

During the question hour of the Budget Session, the sports minister spent a few minutes to scramble through the pile of papers before him to respond to the question raised by the Mawphlang MLA.

MLA Banteidor Lyngdoh, also the president of People’s Democratic Front (PDF), informed the House that after the notification of Sports Policy on December 12, 2019, the department started the process of drafting an operational manual for the sports policy. However, the process couldn’t be completed owing to the pandemic. The department will finalise the operational manual in the next three months, he said.

Since Meghalaya is expected to host the National Games for 36 disciplines, MLA Eugeneson Lyngdoh asked what steps has the department taken to prepare the athletes and recruitment of qualified coaches.

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The sports minister said the department has had several meetings with the Meghalaya State Olympic Association (MSOA) to come up with a proposal of different sports association for preparation of the team for national games. The sports department is scrutinizing the proposal sent by different sports associations for conduct of competition, selection of athletes training them and sending them for competition exposure, and even hiring renowned and well-experienced coaches, the minister added.

The Mawphlang MLA further enquired whether the infrastructure that would be constructed for the National Games be made available to different sports associations for permanent training facility.

Leaving the House anxiously waiting for his answer, the sports minister took nearly a minute to finally respond to the question. “The construction of the stadium is under process and matter is yet to be decided. The state government is fully immersed in constructing and upgradation of various infrastructure, both for outdoor and indoor sports disciplines. It will be decided later on.”

Eugeneson questioned how many of the state national or international athletes have been provided jobs through sports quota and what is the current sports quota percentage. The sports minister informed that matter has been sought from MPSC concerning the job quota.

He added that to enable them to conduct selection, competition, participation in various regional and national level tournament, the department of sports has conducted several workshops and meetings with the MSOA, the state sports association to capture the immediate requirement with regards to equipment, recruitment of technical teams for hosting of a national-level event, participating in national level events, etc.

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The minister also shared that the government of Meghalaya has approved grant in aid to 29 sports association amounting to Rs 1 crore in the current financial year.

Last one year (2021-22), the government has given to these associations affiliated with the Meghalaya State Olympic Association the following: Rs 8 lakh for Archery Association, Rs 3 lakh for Meghalaya Athletic Association, Rs 3 lakh for Meghalaya Badminton Association, Rs 10 lakh for Meghalaya Basketball Association, Rs 3 lakh Meghalaya Billiard and Snooker Association, Rs 3 lakh for Meghalaya Boxing Association, Rs 3 lakh for Meghalaya Football Association, among others.

He added that Rs 6 lakh has been given to the MSOA for 2022-23. The state will also conduct national TT championship this year and an amount of Rs 1 crore has been earmarked for the same. The minister urged all the sports associations to submit the Utilisation Certificate (UC) on time so that more financial assistance can be given.

MLA Eugeneson also raised a question whether any scholarship program has been implemented by the department to support children through sports if they have excelled in national and international level. Lyngdoh responded positively and said the government has sanctioned Rs 1 crore two lakhs forty five thousand during the current financial year 2022, for cash award of 264 sportsperson who have won medal in regional, national and international level tournament in various sports discipline.

The Meghalaya Games will be hosted May and June, and NE Olympics in October and November this year.

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