Northeastern State Mizoram, which is known for its love for sports, particularly football, has recently declared sports as an industry. The state has produced many sportsperson of both national and international level. Northeast Today writes
In a difficult time of struggle and misery due to the pandemic crisis, the Northeastern state Mizoram has good news to share with its people amidst a gloomy environment. Recently, the state has accorded ‘industry’ status to sports in a bid to bring in more vitality into the thriving sporting culture in the state. On 22nd May, during its meet, the Mizoram Cabinet cleared the Sports and Youth Service department’s proposal to recognize sports as an ‘industry’ in the state. The decision has sent a positive message to the sports fraternity of the state, as sports is seen as a major activity in the state. It is hoped now that the industry status to sports will surly boost the sports sector of Mizoram which has been facing many problems related to infrastructure, as well as patronage to some extent. Interestingly, Mizoram is the only state so far in India to declare sports as an industry. In 2019, Mizoram had also recognized tourism as an industry. However, this decision of the Mizoram Govt. didn’t come all of a sudden. The idea was first proposed in 2019. At the same time, the Govt. had done some homework on sports policies of other countries where sport is considered as an industry, before finalizing the decision. Confirming this, Chief Minister of Mizoram Zoramthanga stated that his Mizo National Front government followed the sports policy in many countries for the approval during the Cabinet meeting, which was held on 22nd May.“We seek to invest more in sports for the generation of employment and increasing value. The industry status should help us meet the requirements of sportspersons and others involved in the sector,” he said.
Commenting on the benchmark decision, Mizoram Sports minister Robert Romawia Royte told the media that it’s a historic decision for the state. He said, “This is a historic decision since I have not heard any other state to do this.” He also added that the idea was first proposed in 2019 as part of the state sports policy by the ruling Mizo National Front government. Royte, who is also the president of the I-League champion Aizawl Football Club, further stated that through the new status, the government hopes to commercialize sporting endeavours and woo investors. “We aim to attract private companies to invest in sports here so that it will benefit us in terms of subsidy, loans and concessions”, he said.
Mizoram is known for its love for sports, whether it is traditional or modern. However, among all sports, football remains the most favorite sport in the state. Many don’t know that at least 100 Mizo players are part of the Indian Super League, one of the top premier football leagues in the country. Football is played competitively through the Mizoram Premier League, which is the highest football league in the state. It is worth mentioning here that the “Mizoram Football Association” is the body which governs the game of football in the state. This association is affiliated with the All India Football Association. Though the Mizoram Football Association was started way back in 1945 before the independence of the Indian sub continent, it was re-established in 1972 and the name of the association was changed from Aizawl Sports Association to Mizoram Football Association. Soon after that, football was set up as a primary sport of the state and people started to get involved with the organization. However, it is not only football which is popular in the state and that has brought fame to the state. Along with Football, Basketball, Volleyball, Badminton, Motorsports, weight lifting, cricket and even boxing have their respectable positions among the sports lovers of the state. Even woman hockey players from the state have made their place in the international sports scenario. Lalremsiami, from the state who was part of the Indian women’s hockey team had won medal in the Asian Games for Mizoram. Her team won the silver medal at the Asian Games 2018 in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The state has produced sports persons of both national and international fame like Olympian archer C Lalremsanga, boxer Jenny Lalremliani, weight lifter S Lalchhahimi and hockey player Lalruatfeli. In 2017, addressing a public meeting at the Assam Rifles ground in Aizawl, Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted these players among other sports persons of the state. “There are many other prominent sports persons from Mizoram who have brought glory to the state and the country,” he said. The soft power of football can become Mizoram’s global identity, the prime minister has said in the public meeting. There is no doubt that the industry status to sports will bring positive changes to the state. However, these changes will only capitalize when the decision will be executed in the real sense and will reach the true beneficiaries.