Kohima: Nagaland will host the 56th cross country championship on January 15 next year, Abu Metha, Associate vice president of the Athletic Federation of India (AFI), informed on Saturday.

Addressing a press conference at the Heritage in Kohima, Metha said that the state was allotted the event following a bid during the AFI national executive meeting held in Rajasthan recently.

“This will be the first-ever national event, as far as athletics is concerned, to be hosted here in Nagaland. We went for this bid because the Nagaland Athletic Association feel that there is a lot of potential for Naga athletes to do well in the middle distance, short distance, marathon and cross country events,” he said.

Metha informed that an elaborate plan has been worked out to train the athletes ahead of the national championship. As per the plan, cross country events will be conducted across various districts by October-end or the first week of November.

He said that school and college students would also be encouraged to participate in the events with the hope to promote cross country sports.

Then, a state-level event would be conducted by December, following which the players will be selected to undergo intensive training for the national championships.

Metha informed that the AFI is keen to promote athletics in the Northeast region, the aspiration. The cross country championship in Nagaland will help kickstart this process. He said that a strategy would encourage maximum participation from the region.

“The Athletics Federation of India is of the view that there is a tremendous amount of potential and talent in athletics in the Northeast. But due to poor resources, lack of infrastructure and support system, athletes in athletics have not done as well as their counterparts in the rest of the country,” he said.

He informed that a team of technical officials would visit the state, and the state’s technical team would also meet with the AFI to formulate a game plan and finalise the rules. He encouraged all affiliated associations of AFI and top athletes from the country to positively participate in the championships.

Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio took to Twitter, saying “Grateful to Athletics Federation of India @afiindia for allotting the 56th National Cross Country Championships 2022 to Nagaland. This will be the first-ever national athletic event to be hosted by Nagaland. We look forward to welcoming the athletics fraternity.”

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