‘No impact of Maoist activities on sports among tribals’

She is an exception in the 294-member State Assembly. Despite missing out on the medal by a whisker,finishing fourth...

Written by Sudeep Pakrashi | Kolkata | Published: February 12, 2009 3:40:57 am

She is an exception in the 294-member State Assembly. Despite missing out on the medal by a whisker,finishing fourth,in the pole vault event in the last edition of the Veterans Olympics in Italy last November,Chunibala Hasda has already earned plenty of respect among her Assembly colleagues.

The MLA of Jharkhand Party (Naren) from Binpur constituency,since 2000,is quite disgusted these days with the state government’s perennial negligence over putting into practice a system for talent research in various sporting disciplines among the tribes.

Interestingly,contrary to popular belief,Hasda rubbished the notion that has been doing the rounds lately — that the tribals,despite tremendous enthusiasm in taking part sporting activities,are now pulling out of it all due to increasing Maoist activities in recent years. In fact,Hasda has a few interesting statistics that are quite pleasantly surprising.

The 45-year old MLA told The Indian Express today: “My constituency comprises nearly 500 villages. And 300 villages that have been conducting sports festivals every year are doing the same now,and with the same level of enthusiasm. There is no effect of Maoist activities at all on the sporting front.”

She continued: “Let’s ask,where is the Maoist activity actually? Whenever you go on protesting against administrative negligence on the overall development of the tribal this communities,you get branded as a Maoist. Now,despite that,there has been no negative impact on the tribesmen. Nearly 1,000 participants could be seen taking part in various disciplines in the festivals. And if you observe closely,you will find several potential participants in athletics and football.”

She cited the example of Magura village that held its very own sports festival yesterday. “You can’t imagine the degree of enthusiasm that was there among the tribal athletes as well as the football players. The paltry amount of money for the entire festival is mainly collected through private donations,that’s how it runs. And despite doing quite well in such sports activities,the tribesmen rarely ever get opportunities in the mainstream circuit,thanks to the negligence from the state government or the Union sports ministry. Even private organisations don’t come forward to help them out and groom them. After 15 long years,only a few talented tribal footballers from Purulia have been groomed and taken to Kolkata,” Hasda lamented.

She claims to have initiated a women’s football training camp in Jhargram back in 2002. “Those tribal girls defeated a team of prominent women players from Kolkata that same year,they were that good,” she recalled.

But the camp didn’t go on for long because of lack of financial back-up. The MLA also lamented how she had started the drive to establish a permanent training programme at Jhargram Stadium with the help of the local authorities led by CPM leaders,but the project failed since the stadium authorities lost interest in the idea.

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