Turning Guwahati into India’s sporting capital is Assam’s challenge: Sonowal

Guwahati, Dec 8 (IANS) Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Thursday reiterated his aim of turning Guwahati into India’s sporting capital during his tenure.

Sonowal, who declared the 1st Elite (Senior) Men’s National Boxing Championship 2016-17 open at the Karmabir Nabin Chandra Bordoloi Indoor Stadium at Sarusajai Sports Complex here, said his government has taken it as a “challenge” to turn the biggest northeastern city into a sporting hotbed.

“Assam and the North East have so much of raw talent that goes unnoticed and several budding sportspersons end up at the district- and state-level. Since assuming charge as Assam’s CM, I have taken it as a challenge and our government is working day and night to turn it into a reality,” Sonowal told reporters here.

“Next year, we are organising the under-17 FIFA World Cup here, and recently we had the India Myanmar Thailand (IMT) car rally, again we are also planning to organise a Brahmaputra Festival to integrate the traditional sports and culture.”

Commenting on the 1st Elite (Senior) Men’s National Boxing Championship 2016-17, which is the first major event organised in two years by the Boxing Federation of India (BFI), Sonowal said: “This tournament is a baby step towards our goal of making Guwahati the Sports Capital of the country. In the days to come, we will have many tournaments of such stature.”

Listing pugilists of international repute from the region like Mary Kom, Shiva Thapa, L. Sarita Devi and Devendro Singh, Sonowal said: “Boxing has given identity to India at the international level, including Olympics.”

Nearly 600 boxers in 37 teams are participating in the competition, which will also serve as the selection platform for the national boxing camps.