Over the last decade, gateway to the Northeast, Guwahati is jostling for space to ink its me as the sports capital of the country. And it filly appears that one of India's fastest growing cities is right on track and may soon leave behind cities like Kolkata and other major sports centres in the country. One of the major riverine port cities of the country, Guwahati has walked that extra mile to stake its claim in the tiol sports are. For instance, organising lesser known sports events like tiol Junior Roll Ball Championship, Junior Taekwondo Tourment et al, the city is fast emerging as the hub of various sports activities spread across the year. And now the ongoing Under 17 FIFA World Cup Tourment which is being hosted here has acted as the icing on the cake. A sports freak himself, Chief Minister Sarbada Sonowal, who once captained the Indian Parliamentary cricket team, has gelled well with the cause. Here the credit is also due to the previous Congress government in the State, as Guwahati's ascendency in organising sports events started back in 2007 when the prestigious tiol Games was hosted in the city. The tiol Games acted as a catalyst to build up the necessary infrastructure to hold sports events of tiol and intertiol stature here. The Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, also known as Sarusajai Stadium, which is the venue for Under 17 FIFA World Cup was constructed in year 2007. With the tiol Games setting the ball rolling for the city to emerge as a hub of sporting activity, it began to get counted among the sports centres of the country and events of intertiol stature were organized, be it in football or athletics, which was rare in the early Nineties.
The rise of Guwahati as a sports centre has also helped in the image makeover of the entire Northeastern region which for long has been seen through the prism of insurgency by mainlanders. Credit has to be given to various sporting associations and more so to the behind-the-scenes players for making sporting events in the region possible throughout the year. If one takes note whenever passing by Nehru Stadium in the city, sports events of various levels are being organized there nearly all through the year. This trend is really encouraging and is also attracting youths towards sports in the State. Obviously, there are challenges and the very recent incident of stone pelting at the Australian team bus after the intertiol T20 cricket match do not augur well. Thankfully, not much damage has been done to the image of Guwahati, as the Australian team reacted to the incident in a very sporting manner. The State government and city administration also acted in a positive manner to bring the situation under control. However, crowd behaviour in sporting events of any stature is an important aspect as it has the capacity to make or mar the image of a sports city. To make Guwahati a sporting capital of the country, Guwahatians also need to play their part by making sure that no unruly scenes are created outside or inside the venues where sports events are organized. Make no mistake, the rise of Guwahati as the emerging sports capital of the country is unprecedented, just like the emergence of North East as the footballing powerhouse of the country. However, there are few teething challenges that need to be overcome. The infrastructure and sports facility needs to get upgraded from time to time as per intertiol standards. Secondly, huge investments are needed in building better roads. Remember, roads are the mirror of the city for outsiders. Though one five-star facility hotel has come up, a growing city like Guwahati needs more. Last but not the least, political interference in sports bodies and associations should come down, while sports should be run by sportspersons with able and honest support from the government of the day. And if everything goes as planned, the emerging sports hub of the country will turn into its sports capital before long.