‘Sports’ is an entity which can communicate to every person from any geo-economic society, and it develops a sense of discipline and friendliness among the youth to build team spirit. Participation in sports in large numbers acts as positive catalyst. A healthy nation is always a wealthy nation in return. Hence it is a necessity to put proper emphasis on sporting activities in any country.
Guwahati, the gateway to the northeastern region of India and located at the bank of majestic Brahmaputra river, as always have its good image all over for its ability in sports. Well known sportsman from the region like Olympian Mary Kom, Olympian Dipa Karmakar, Somdev Devvarman, Jayanta Talukdar, Shiva Thapa, Abu Nechim, Jeje Lalpekhlua, Bhogeswar Barua, Sushila Chanu who is currently women hockey captain of India and an unending list follows. But not many major sporting event was hosted previously in the city in the yesteryears, not much hosting rights was also proposed due to various wide angle reasons.
Fortunately a decade ago the 33rd National Games event was hosted in this beautiful city, and it acted like a curtain raiser. Previous government led by Mr. Tarun Gogoi, constructed the sporting infrastructures to run the event smoothly. The Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium also known as Sarusajai Stadium was the main venue for the national games along with few other freshly constructed stadiums. After the conclusion of successful host of national games city ticked in the map of sports in the country and has walk an extra mile to stake its claim in the sports arena. Apart from this, Guwahati also hosted a few international cricket matches in the stadium called Nehru Stadium in a outdated infrastructure in its early days. Ever since those days Guwahati is fast emerging as the hub of various sports activities across the year.
Assam’s current Chief Minister Mr. Sarbananda Sonowal, a sports enthusiast himself, stressed on making this city into sports capital of India. During his tenure as the central minister for sports and youth welfare, he bid high for Guwahati and Shillong to host South Asian Games, where eight countries participated and was again a grand success.
The Guwahati city is also hosting top football league i.e Indian Super League from couple of years. Sarusajai is the home ground for the Northeast United Football Club franchisee (team). Environment is electrifying as football is something every local can heartily relate to. And it is a staple sports of the region.
Guwahati has also hosted the grand opening ceremony of ISL on 1st Oct 2016 on one of its edition. Recently concluded FIFA U17 football world cup 2017, was the first of its kind in the Indian soil under the banner of FIFA. Out of six selected venues along length and breadth of this vast nation Guwahati was selected to host nine matches for its popularity and fondness towards this great game and the infrastructures available. Again this tournament was nicely organised, unfortunately high voltage semi final was cancelled and transferred to Kolkata due to natures call i.e downpour.
Most recent T20 match was also played between India and Australia in the newly built world class infrastructure equipped Barsapara Cricket Stadium, whose foundation stone was laid during previous government in power. Apart from the stone pelting game was enjoyed by the majority of the people. International Baseball tournament is also coming up early next year. Present government is also trying and planning to come up with a sports university here in the city. This kind of sporting event was thin rare in the late nineties.
The rise of Guwahati as a sports hotspot has also imparted in the image makeover of the entire beautiful northeast region, which for long time has been seen through the mirror of insurgency by mainstream mainlanders. Unprecedented responses has already started coming in from every social circle. Credit goes to sports authority and its stake holders for making sports events in the region possible through dedication and potential. Obviously, there are challenges in every aspect. Recently stone pelting incident in the Australian team bus went viral and it lowered the reputation to some extent. Thankfully, not much damage has been done to the image of Guwahati as the visiting team reacted in a smiling gesture. State administration also acted strongly to nab the culprit in minimum timeframe. And in addition to that if we compare with the connectivity whether be it land or air connectivity, cozy hotels, training standards, better roads, better sporting environment we are on the right track now. To close with if everything goes as planned in action plan, the emerging sports hub of the country will turn into its sports capital in near future.