GUWAHATI: Footballers and football aficionados in Meghalaya may have a reason to feel ecstatic.
It was a moment of pride for them as the much-awaited Football Stadium was inaugurated by Chief Minister Conrad K Sangmaat at the PA Sangma Sports Complex in Tura on Friday. The dignitaries present included Health Minister James PK Sangma. A bust of former Lok Sabha Speaker, the late PA Sangma, was unveiled on the occasion.
An official statement said the upgradation of the stadium has been a mammoth undertaking by the state government.
“The stadium is a technological marvel, being the country’s largest pre-engineered composite football stadium with a sizeable seating capacity of 9,500. The beautiful stadium is a part of an equally magnificent sports complex built at a cost of Rs 127.7 crore which is also nearing completion,” the statement said.
The football stadium and the two Indoor stadiums have been built over a combined area of over 17,000 sq meters. The indoor stadiums with a gymnasium, swimming pool, table tennis hall, squash hall and badminton hall will be ready for inauguration by December next year.
“The Department of Sports and Youth Affairs in its quest to strengthen the sports eco-system and engage the youth of Meghalaya formulated the Sports Policy in 2019. Extensive efforts have been made to make world-class sports facilities available to the youth and athletes of the region. Such efforts have never been initiated earlier in the history of Meghalaya,” the statement said.
It further said 318 grassroots sporting infrastructures are being developed across the state along with large-scale state-of-the-art sports infrastructure across the state. Several other sporting infrastructures will be ready within the next few months, it added.
The government said it has launched a talent identification programme for athletes. It aims at identifying talented athletes at a young age and honing their skills through curated training programmes.
In the first phase of the programme, 4,600 children in the age groups of 10-18 were tested on international standards for their athletic abilities. The initial findings were found to be encouraging. Dozens of kids whose athletic abilities are on par and even better than international benchmarks were identified.
Raksan Sangma, a 17-year-old boy from South West Garo Hills, clocked 2.84 seconds in the 20-meter sprint against the international benchmark of 2.99 seconds.
“Hosting events is also a big objective to ensure that athletes gain exposure. This has been a primary focus of the Department of Sports and Youth Affairs,” the statement added.