Manipur violence affects sportspersons carrer

Imphal: Laishram Sanayima Meitei wanted to see his son play for Indian Hockey team but his dream was shattered on May 5, 2023, when his 20-year old-son Laishram Rivaldo Meitei was shot dead just few kms away from his home in Imphal city.

The talented Hockey player was killed in the ethnic-violence which has torn apart Manipur since May 4.

“I want to see my son play for India but now it will never happen because, he was killed in the ethnic-violence. I never thought to see the dead body of my son. He was a talent player who has dreamed to represent India in senior Hockey team but now all ends after his death. My son was very disciplined and dedicated for his sports. But the dark night of May 5, took away my only son from me,” said Laishram Sanayima Meitei, father of deceased Hockey player.

Rivaldo was an emerging national level hockey player from Manipur. He captained the Manipur sub-junior hockey team in Goa last season.

He was set to be included in the Manipur team for the 13th Hockey India Junior Men’s National Championship to be held in Rourkela in June.

Khaiminthang Lhungdim said, “The ethnic clash has not affected us. We are a sportspersons and we represent Manipur. In this Durand Cup, I am playing for Punjab team, and seven more players from Manipur are also playing for Punjab. We have no division among us, we are united. We never discussed about the ethnic clashes, which has been going on in Manipur,”.

“The violence has damaged the careers of many budding players from Manipur as no tournament is happening in Manipur at the moment. Earlier I had played in Durand Cup for NEROCA FC club of Manipur. But this time NEROCA FC had not participated in the tournament due to the ongoing violence and sponsorship.

Khaiminthang Lhungdim is currently playing for Punjab FC club. He is a resident of Jelmol village in Churachandpur.

Thibema Lima, a resident of Kongba said, “We were alerted after violence broke out in Imphal city. Rivaldo was not allowed to go out of the house. But on the evening of May 5, some Kuki people were found in our neighborhood. There was an uproar going on. Rivaldo had stepped out to see from his home to look after what was going on. I stopped him, Then suddenly at 10.30 pm the news came that Rivaldo had been shot. He died before reaching the hospital,”.

However, the person who allegedly shot Rivaldo is a Meitei youth. The police have arrested him and at present he is lodged in jail.

Now training has started in Imphal again from July 17, but not a single Kuki player has returned.

Former Indian football captain Oinam Bembem Devi said that Manipur violence has filled the lives of budding players especially with despair. Due to continuous curfew in the state, players are afraid to come to the ground for training.

Bembem Devi, who has received Arjuna Award and Padma Shri, had also met Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Imphal, requesting him to stop violence and ensure peace in Manipur.

“If the government could not control the situation. I would return all my awards,” she said.

When asked about returning the award, Bembem Devi says, “It is about our Manipur and it is necessary to save our state from violence. What will we do with these awards if our state is not saved? That’s why Kunjrani Devi, Sarita Devi, Sonia Chanu, Sushila Devi and many senior players, including Sandhya Rani Devi, had decided to return their awards to the government.”

Expressing concern over the impact of the violence on the training of sportspersons, Oinam Bembem Devi told the BBC: “It is a very important time for our sportspersons as the Asian Games are coming up in September-October and selection trials for many sports are underway.” Ongoing. Due to the violence, all the tournaments in Imphal have been cancelled.”

She says, “If the players do not play club-level tournaments or do not train properly, then how will they participate in the camps for different games.”

“Before the India camp, the players have to fix their fitness level. But due to the videos going viral on the day, there is fear in the minds of the players as well. We want both the communities to do this to establish peace in the state. Gotta understand the point.”

Sebastian Thangmuansang, who played for the Mohammedan Sporting Club of Kolkata till last year, is also very worried about the ongoing violence in Manipur and its impact on the players.

Sebastian, who comes from the Kuki tribe, says, “We have to do training to improved our games. But it is not safe to go to the football ground at this time because of the violence. There is firing in the area. The situation was tensed because of the violence which has been going on since May 4. All the players are having problem due to the violence,”.

Six youth football players from Manipur were selected in the Indian National team for the qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar and the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.

At the same time, eight players were from Manipur in the Indian women’s and men’s team that participated in the Under-17 Football World Cup in the year 2017.

Manipur is considered one of the centers of Indian football as it has been producing excellent football players over the years.

Due to ongoing violence and economic difficulties in Manipur, the state’s famous football clubs NEROCA FC and TRAU FC are unable to participate in this year’s Durand Cup. But, last year Manipur had co-hosted the Durand Cup.

Manipur, which has only 0.24 percent share in the total population of India, has produced about 19 Olympic level players since 1984, who have represented India.

From Mary Kom (boxing) to Sushila Chanu (women’s hockey player), S Neelakanta (men’s hockey), Mirabai Chanu (weightlifting), Devendro Singh (boxing) and L Sushila Devi (judo), countless sportspersons have brought laurels to India.

Manipur has also dominated the Indian women’s hockey team. Till last year, eight players have been selected from Manipur in the senior women’s national team.

Some players who left their marks in the Indian football team, the names of Manipur’s Gouramangi Singh Mourang them, Surkumar Singh, Renedy Singh are still remembered.

The post Manipur violence affects sportspersons carrer appeared first on OUR INDIA.

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