‘Hosting National Games has been a matter of absolute pride for every Goan citizen,’ says Amitabh Sharma chairman of technical committee
State-of-the-Art infrastructure and stellar participation highlight Goa’s achievement
When the hosting rights for the National Games 2023 were awarded to Goa, there were mixed reactions from all quarters regarding the tiny coastal state’s ability to successfully manage the event without any hiccups. However, with just under a week left for the closing ceremony of the 37th National Games, Goa has not only pulled off an incredible feat by hosting the biggest Games in terms of participation and sporting disciplines but has also left a strong legacy for the future.
With over 10,000 athletes participating in 42 disciplines, many of which made their debut in this edition of the National Games, the organizers believe that this is Goa’s finest moment in its sporting history, and the state is all set to host many more sporting events in the future.
“Hosting the National Games has been a matter of absolute pride for every Goan citizen. An event like the National Games provides a perfect platform for budding athletes across the country to showcase their talent and excel in their careers. As hosts, we considered this aspect of utmost importance and ensured that we pulled off this year’s National Games effortlessly,” said Amitabh Sharma, Chairman of the Goa Technical Conduct Committee.
A Successful Story in Infrastructural Development
Sharma also highlighted how state-of-the-art infrastructure built across the state allowed them to conduct events in multiple venues spread across five cities.
“We took inspiration from last year’s National Games in Gujarat and laid down a roadmap to host a similar kind of multi-city event in Goa as well. The key to that was having state-of-the-art infrastructure, for which everyone worked on a war footing and made everything possible,” Sharma said.
“There were quite a few new sporting disciplines like Pencak Silat, Lagori, Gatka, Mini Golf, and, most importantly, beach football, which is synonymous with Goa. Building foolproof infrastructure for these sporting events required a lot of work, but we did everything efficiently and from scratch, and everyone can see the end results.
“There were some serious challenges. For instance, there were doubts as to whether we would be able to complete everything on time. But the Sports Authority of Goa joined hands with all the important stakeholders, and we have been immensely successful,” Sharma added.
Leaving a Strong Legacy
Sharma also pointed out how the ongoing National Games will be remembered for promoting indigenous sports in India and providing numerous athletes in those disciplines a platform to showcase their talent and make a name for themselves.
“The National Games in Goa will be remembered not only because of how the state successfully hosted the event but also because of the fact that many indigenous sporting events had their moment of glory,” Sharma remarked.
“The Indian Olympic Association has been very categorical about the need to promote traditional sports disciplines alongside well-known ones. So, we worked closely with the IOA to make that a reality this time in Goa.
“We successfully introduced those sports that are part of Indian culture and historical values. For example, sports like Gatka, associated with Sikhism, and Lagori, primarily played in the Western Ghat regions. In that way, the Goa National Games will be remembered as a launchpad for creating more avenues for many athletes,” he added.
Goa All Set to Host Bigger Sporting Events
Swetika Sachan, Sports Secretary of Goa, explained that hosting over 10,000 athletes was a challenging task, but the Sports Authority of Goa took the challenge head-on and is now ready to host bigger sporting events in the coming days.
“This National Games has been unprecedented on so many levels. Hosting an event like the National Games means the host state becomes home to tens of thousands of athletes. For the very first time, the number crossed the 10,000 mark, and considering that Goa is a small state, it was always a challenge. But, we have been very successful in that regard,” Sachan said.
“We dreamt of hosting an event like the National Games for a long time. We began working accordingly, building temporary stadiums, refurbishing existing ones, and setting strict timelines.
“The Government of India, IOA, and federations of different sports were very supportive in helping us host an event of this magnitude. We are now ready to host bigger sporting events in the days to come by making the best use of the existing infrastructure,” she added.
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An Eco-friendly Initiative
The beaches in Colva, Dona Paula, and Miramar played host to some of the most interesting sporting events in these National Games. The organizers meticulously built appropriate infrastructure in these tourist hotspots to ensure the smooth functioning of the events. However, they were equally aware of the need to ensure that the beaches, the heartbeats of Goa, were not spoiled or polluted.
“One of the core objectives of the Goa National Games was to ensure an eco-friendly campaign throughout the event. The infrastructural development happened in a way that the beaches remained in the same pristine state as before. The motto was not to harm the environment in any way,” said Geeta Suresh Nagvenkar, Joint CEO of SAG.
Nagvenkar, who previously was in charge of the state environmental department, also stated that the 37th edition of the National Games is the first eco-friendly sporting event in India.
“I am a climate change activist, and protecting the environment while hosting the National Games has been my utmost priority since I took over the responsibility at SAG. It is heartening to see how we fulfilled our mission of making this year’s National Games the country’s first-ever eco-friendly sporting event,” she added.
Women Centric National Games
One of the most unique features of this year’s National Games, according to the Organizing Committee, is the pivotal role played by an all-women-led team in hosting the Games.
“This has been the very first time where women office-bearers, right from the IOA to SAG, played a crucial role in steering this National Games and making it a successful one,” Geeta remarked.
“From Dr. PT Usha, the IOA President, to Swetika Sachan, CEO and Sports Secretary of SAG, and others, including me, the all-women-led team has been at the forefront this time.
“I am sure this will pave the way for more sports-loving women to come forward and play such important roles in hosting events like the National Games in the days to come. This also highlights the fact that, just like men, women are equally capable of running such high-octane events and should be given more responsibility,” she added.