Nagaland CM urges need to promote, enhance indigenous Naga wrestling

Kohima: Naga wrestling, an indigenous grappling sport, is one of the most popular traditional sports that continues to be played even in the present day with much fanfare. During the 50th Angami Sports Association (ASA) wrestling meet, Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio called on the Nagas to promote and enhance the indigenous sport.

Speaking at the wrestling meet held at Khouchiezie (Kohima local ground) in Kohima on Friday, Rio said that the traditional sport, which has been preserved and practiced till date, needs to be upgraded and promoted to a greater height.

Rio, who is also the president of the Nagaland Olympics Association (NOA), suggested that an expert committee be constituted to review the rules of the game and give recommendations to enhance the sport.

Although a traditional sport, some modifications can be made and up to three weights—light, medium and heavy – can be created to encourage young players, Rio quipped.

While the traditional sport is played mainly by three Naga tribes—Angami, Chakhesang and Zeliang, the CM hoped that these tribes will take the sport to another level and encourage the sport among other Naga tribes as well.

Along with the indigenous sport, he also urged the community to create platforms in promoting other indigenous sports, folk songs and dances, war cry and so on.  

While lack of infrastructure, coaching, and training is hampering the growth of sportspersons in the state, he assured that the state government is doing its best to promote sports. He advised the sports associations and sportspersons to utilize the recently inaugurated complex of the Nagaland Olympic Association which has facilities for all sports disciplines.

He mentioned that to encourage sportspersons, the regional centre for sports in Dimapur was inaugurated. Besides, the state government will also be hosting the South Asian Athletic Federation (SAAF) cross country race championships and national championship next month.

He also announced that Nagaland will also be hosting the grand finale of the Indian National Rally Championship in March. Further, Rio encouraged the people to witness the international and national sporting events and learn from such events.

Meanwhile, ASA president Er Lhoubeizo Mere Kesiyie informed that 16 other Naga tribes were invited to witness the Angami wrestling meet with the hope to promote the sport even among the other tribes.

10 of the former ASA wrestling champions also featured during the wrestling meet ceremony. The two-day wrestling event kicked off with the ‘Phouse kene’ where two 6-year-old children grappled, symbolising the traditional way of invoking the almighty’s blessings upon the event.

Over 100 wrestlers from the four affiliated units—Northern Angami Sports Association (NASA), Southern Angami Sports Association (SASA), Western Angami Youth Organization (WAYO) and Chakhroma Youth Organization (CYO), are vying for the championship.

The Naga Wrestling competition is being held for two categories—junior (Under 16) and senior (16 years above). A total of 60 wrestlers—15 from each range, for the senior category and 40 wrestlers—10 each from each range, for the Under-16 category, will participate in the competition.

The senior category is being played on Friday while the junior wrestlers will grapple for the championship on Saturday. In the individual category for Wrestling (seniors), the winner will receive a cash amount of Rs 2,00,000 followed by Rs 1,20,000 for the second, Rs 80,000 for the third, Rs 50,000 for the fourth, and Rs 10,000 each for four quarterfinalists. The wrestler with the best tactic will receive an amount of Rs 10,000.

The group champion in the senior category will receive Rs 1,20,000, followed by Rs 60,000 for the second, Rs 40,000 for the third, and Rs 25,000 for the fourth.

As for the individual prizes for the junior wrestling category, the winner will receive Rs 40,000, followed by Rs 30,000 for the second, Rs 20,000 for the third, Rs 10,000 for the fourth, and Rs 5,000 each for four quarter-finalists. The wrestler with the best tactic will receive an amount of Rs 5,000.

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