Ibotombi S. Longjam
at the rate Hotmail dot Com
"No state has dominated women's football as Manipur over the years" writes Sabanayakan of Sportstar. Five National crowns in seven Championships justify his statement. For years, people have seen players from this tiny state -as small as a district in Uttar Pradesh or Karnataka- displaying their skill, stamina and speed. By and large, the players from Sana Leibak -Golden Land as gracefully called by her inhabitants have been able to book a place in any kind of national sporting events. This was clear from the 6th National Games held at Imphal in the beginning of 1999. It was a pride moment for all the Manipuris when they were declared the Overall Team Champion, ahead of the states like Kerala -giant of water sports- in the South and Punjab -spearheads in athletics- in the North. Many famous players and coaches from different parts of the country had to go back with their heads hung in a low profile.
All kinds of sports events, which are played all over the world, are also being played in Manipur. The people of this state are literally obsessed with sports. It is not exaggerating to say that people have been frequently getting work-leaves just to see the finales of any game hosted by the state. Another point worth to mention is that a couple of years ago led by the former Governor, Sri. Srivastava, the sports loving people of this Sana Leibak showcased a football stadium in the heart of the City, the finance being supported from the entire income earners from street vendor to secretaries.
For years the state has been representing
the Indian Flag in Commonwealth, Asian, and Olympics Games and brought
laurels for the state and country. Needless to say, in any national standard
event it has ALWAYS been seeded at least in the top 5 ranks. Of late, winning
habit is much more prominent in many of the popular games except CRICKET,
of course. Women's football is one where the state has been dominating
for the last decade. Bengal is the only state, which has come closed to
it and a bit of challenging in the finals. As mentioned earlier, since
1991, Manipur had bagged the National Championship for five times out of
seven meeting with Bengal in the Final as shown in the following table.
|Source: Sportstar, June 19, 1999|
From this table, one can clearly see the two teams viz. Manipur and Bengal have completely dominated the Indian Women's Football since the starting of the game in the country. No other team has so far come closed to them. In the last championship held at Shillong, in 1999, 15 teams participated and Manipur again was the winner through the golden goal, scored by Tababi. However, it is ultimately Manipur that has gone ahead in the rivalry. The best word to describe the spirited Manipuri players is triple S: Skill, Speed and Stamina, as mentioned in the Sports Magazine. Many a times, hat tricks were ways to convey their satisfaction in their own game. It is this SSS, that the state ultimately push the Bengalis down to their knees in today's fast game.
"One of the reasons that Manipur is
enjoying such a high status is that the state created its own Women's Federation
when All India Women's Football Federation was also born", writes Megha
in The Poknapham -a local daily. In 1976, at Pologround, Imphal,
Manipur held her First State Level Women's Football League Tournament.
ESU (Eastern Sporting Union) was the Winner, while TRAU (Tiddim Road Athletic
Union) bagged the Runners up. That was the opening of the chapter in women's
football in Manipur. After that there was no look-back with several clubs
mushrooming up. Despite all this, it is not easy to maintain and keep up
a professional skill in Today's World where a lot of money is involved
in any kind of sports, especially for an economically backward state like
Manipur. It is the sheer skill, determination of the players, and of course,
the encouragement of coaches and local guardians that we are able to enjoy
such a status in the women's football. I am very pleased to put up the
names of the women players from Manipur who have participated in any international
1st Jayalalitha International Invitation Football Tournament, Madras, 1994
10th Asian Women's Football Championship, Kaula Lampur, 1995
German Tour, 1997
11th Asian Women's Football Championship, Beijing, 1997
13th Asian Games, Bangkok, 1998
11th Asian Women's Football
Championship, Beijing, 1995
Thus, the Manipuri players have been contributing
as a major share for the Indian team over the years. However, it is unfortunate
to look at the economic conditions of the players, the State and Game itself.
In this age of advanced technology, and high quality products, we are far
behind. These players do not get any sponsorship of standard Indian brands
of shoes and clothings, let alone the international reputes Adidas, Nike,
Raebok, etc. These players have long been longing for good sports wears,
which make the players fit, comforting and MOTIVATING. But in the reality
side, they are struggling to get even a daily regular diet. Despite all
these hurdles of being born in a poor state, their efforts to keep the
opponents at their toes, have to be appreciated and long cherished for.
In these regards, I would like to draw the attention of two agents in the
foremost: the State Government and AMFA have to recognise our dear players
with due respect and money.