Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday inaugurated the Manipur Chapter of the Durand Cup 2022, Asia’s oldest football tournament, amid much fanfare at the Khuman Lampak stadium in Imphal. In his inaugural speech, the Union minister rightly termed the opening of Imphal derby a ‘Historic day’, as the tournament is being held in Manipur for the first time ever.
Besides Imphal, the 131st ediction of Durand Cup, is also being held in multiple venues of Kolkata and Guwahati with Manipur hosting the 10 group C matches of the tournament. And of course, the opening day of the tournament lived up to its expectations as thousands from all corners of the state came to experience the event with home-grown clubs, NEROCA FC and TRAU FC fighting it out in a state derby, with the former coming out victorious with a score line of 3-1.
But of course, when Chief Minister N. Biren Singh unveiled the Durand Cup trophies in Imphal this July, it was not without criticism with some ‘keyboard warriors’ calling the Durand Cup an irrelevant tournament, a tournament that does not hold any value nor is watched as much as it used to be. But again, criticisms are part of life, for, to know the value of light, there must be darkness too. So, wouldn’t it be better to look at the brighter side and see what the Durand Cup can do for Manipur, a sports powerhouse of India.
Manipur has produced international level players who have brought name, glory and honour for the country through their achievements. Even in the recently held Commonwealth Games, 2022 at Birmingham, of the seven players from the state, five delivered medals for the state and country. Such is the power of Manipur in sports that CM Biren, rightly brought the Durand Cup to the state, the first time in the event’s 131 years. And himself being a national level player in the eighties and having won the Durand Cup as a player of the BSF in 1981, one must agree when the CM said that conducting the tournament in the state will result in encouraging more people to take up football in the state.
And, it is also a well-known and accepted fact that sports of any form make one a disciplined individual thus making him or her an important asset for the society. Hence, sports has been always encouraged across the globe for a disciplined and healthy lifestyle. And considering such facts, it is important that the Durand Cup is supported, that more young talents are encouraged to take up sports, either for personal benefits or for the love of sports. There is nothing to lose in sports, but all gain.