Thousands of athletes representing 25 districts of Arunachal Pradesh found themselves grappling with scorching temperatures and extreme heat as they arrived in the capital city to participate in the State Level Hangpang Dada Memorial Trophy for Football and Volleyball. The unprecedented heatwave has underscored the impact of climate change on the sporting world, leading to concerns over scheduling and athletes' health.
For athletes hailing from the interior high altitude districts and those residing near the China border, the intense heat and humidity of Itanagar came as a shock. Unaccustomed to such blistering temperatures, these athletes, known for their prowess in their respective regions' hilly terrains, struggled to cope with the adverse conditions. Reports of heat-related illnesses such as heat stroke and diarrhea further highlighted the challenges faced by participants.
Speaking on behalf of the Department of Sports, Tadar Apa, Director of Sports, shed light on the department's efforts in promoting sports and developing infrastructure across Arunachal Pradesh. Despite some delays due to logistical issues, Apa emphasized the ongoing construction of the Dorjee Khandu Badminton Hall, which will feature eight well-equipped courts. Additionally, construction work is underway for another stadium at the Sangey Ladhen Sports Academy. The National Centre of Excellence, a 120-bedded facility funded by the Sports Authority of India, is also progressing and expected to be completed soon. Several other indoor and outdoor stadium projects have been initiated across the state to provide top-notch sporting facilities.
Apa acknowledged the challenges faced by executing agencies outside the sports department, such as the Urban Development (UD) department and Public Works Department (PWD), in ensuring timely completion of sports infrastructure projects. However, he assured that the Mission Directors of Khelo India were overseeing these initiatives, and approximately twenty schemes aimed at promoting sports activities through improved infrastructure were currently underway in various districts. Furthermore, a synthetic track costing 10 crores is being funded by the government to provide athletes with a state-of-the-art facility.
While the Hangpang Dada Memorial Trophy is an annual event that receives positive feedback regarding organization and management, the current heatwave posed a unique challenge for athletes accustomed to cooler climates. The Department of Sports holds regular review meetings to address any shortcomings and rectify issues faced by athletes. Apa also emphasized the presence of sports quotas in various government departments, with a rigorous scrutiny process to ensure deserving candidates receive opportunities.
Apa took the opportunity to encourage youth to refrain from substance abuse and maintain discipline in sports. He acknowledged the tradition of consuming alcoholic beverages but urged young athletes to prioritize their health and future by avoiding such practices. The efforts of the Arunachal Pradesh government in supporting athletes have already borne fruit, with youth from the state securing medals at national and international championships. To further incentivize sportspersons, the government has allocated substantial funds, including 3, 2, and 1 crore rupees for Olympic gold, silver, and bronze medalists respectively. Apa expressed confidence that Arunachal Pradesh would see representation in the 2028 Olympics.
In response to the athletes' feedback, the organizers of the Hangpang Dada Memorial Trophy acknowledged the facilities provided, including the quality of food, while taking note of the concerns about the oppressive heat. Athletes expressed gratitude for the overall arrangements but emphasized the need for better adaptations to extreme climatic conditions in the future.
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