New Delhi: Sports Minister Ajay Maken on Friday announced setting up of a coaching centre in Imphal, while sanctioning a football academy to Dimapur in Nagaland during a workshop on `Youth and Sports development in North-Eastern region` here.
Addressing the issue of lack of quality coaches in various sporting disciplines in the North-East, Maken said the Imphal coaching institute would be catering to the needs of the North-Eastern states.
Emphasising that Imphal would be the fourth coaching institute in the country after Patiala, Kolkata and Bangalore, the new sports minister said, "Looking at the problems of scarcity of coaches in the North-Eastern region, we have decided to set up a coaching centre in Imphal, which will particularly cater to the requirements of this region."
Maken also decided to sanction a football academy to Nagaland in view of the poor infrastructure for sports in the North-Eastern states.
Assuring that the other states of the region would also be alloted academies over the course of time, he said, "this is just the beginning."
The workshop saw ministers from all the north-eastern states -- Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Manipur, Mizoran, Tripura and Nagaland -- sharing their concerns and discussing problems to the growth of sports in the region.
Lack of infrastructure and quality coaches, the geographical limitations of the states, lack of co-ordination between the SAI (Sports Authority of India) and the State Sports bodies, lack of modern equipment etc, were some issues highlighted by these officials.
Maken said there is a need to draw up a specialized programme for the skill development and employment of youth, keeping in mind the special requirements of the people of this area.
"North-Eastern region is a powerhouse in sports. During Commonwealth Games and Asian Games we saw a number of sportspersons from the North-Eastern region bagging medals for the country and making us proud. We need them to come out in larger numbers. Sports can also help in generating more employments as well.”
"There is a need for each state to identify their set of skill development programmes that is best suited to them separately and also identify those youngsters who could be trained," said Maken.
People in the age group of 15 to 35 constitute about 40 per cent of the country`s total population and 43 per cent of the youth are in the North-Eastern region and Maken said it was imperative to provide opportunities and skill development programmes for them.
Giving details of the scheme, Maken said apart from the North Eastern states, the country would be divided into three other parts for the programme -- Jammu and Kashmir, Tribals areas and the rest of the country.
Elaborating that the North-Eastern states and Tribal areas need more attention than the rest of the country, Maken said the projects, in collaboration with FICCI, were started with the North Eastern region while the Naxal-infested tribal areas will be taken up next in March-April.
"We have to draw up new schemes for the youth as some of the schemes have become outdated. These are specific programmes and tailor-made for each region. The focus will be skill development and employment through sports," he explained.