State badminton league hit by lack of funds & infrastructure

District associations & the parent body want govt support to provide better facilities to young shuttlers

It was 4.15 pm and the badminton training centre at JN Sports Indoor Stadium in Polo was teeming with action. Coach Siddharth Das was busy instructing his students as they warmed up for the day’s session.

The training centre, a section of which is reserved for table tennis, is a humble structure with basic amenities. One can gauge from this the poor state of infrastructure for badminton in Meghalaya. With little or no help from the government, it becomes a struggle for players as well as coaches and members of the Meghalaya State Badminton Association, which was formed in 1981 and is affiliated with the Badminton Association of India.

Players and members on the concluding day of the WGH Badminton Championship. Photo sourced

“This stadium is under the government and has been allotted to both badminton and table tennis players. However, TT is seldom practised here but the space remains occupied. Also, if there is any government event or election, then we have to stop the training sessions as the government takes over the centre,” said Das as he explained the problems faced by the badminton association.

Earlier, the stadium-cum-training centre was in Lachaumiere but that has been dismantled for a new structure. Now, another stadium with better facilities is coming up at the site of the existing JN Indoor Stadium. The coaches agreed that it would be a boost to the state badminton league but that is not enough.

Das is a former national-level player and has been playing since 1989. Besides him, there are two more coaches, Prem Joshi and Rajesh Kamal. Joshi was also present when Meghalaya Monitor visited the training centre. There are 28 players from all age groups. Das informed that the centre provides training till the Under-19 category and the minimum age for enrolling is six.

“In fact, we need to scout for more talents among children. Every state and every nation that is producing world champions is starting early. But here, we do not have the bandwidth to do so,” said Das, adding that the state’s performance at the national level is poor.

Das was right and seconded by Joshi. The training centre provides shuttles, but that too at the junior level, and the remaining cost has to be borne by players. “Badminton is an expensive game and with no help from the government to buy even racquets, it becomes difficult to hunt for talents from rural areas and the lower stratum of society,” rued Joshi.

The district associations

In Tura, the hometown of Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, the condition of infrastructure and other facilities for players are equally appalling. Ricrak Ch Momin, president of the West Garo Hills District Badminton Association which came into existence in 1998, gave a vivid picture of the situation.

The town, which is the second most important in the state after Shillong, has only one indoor stadium at Hawakhana for the entire town. The project was under the Meghalaya Sports Council and the stadium was inaugurated in 1992 by late PA Sangma. At present, there are two wooden courts with synthetic mats. The association has 80 active members and players.

“Both North and South Tura share the same stadium. It was neglected for a long time and left unattended for far too long. We took the initiative and tried our best to revive and restore it. Now it’s somehow in a playable condition. Two years back, we got some assistance from the government but most of the work before and after the state’s intervention has to be managed by our association. We have over 50 years of statehood and still we have only this,” said Momin.

Last year, after a gap of 27 years, the state badminton association had the opportunity to host the 37th State Championship 2022 in Tura for the second time. Over 260 players participated.

Echoing Das and Joshi, Momin said except for two courts and nets, there is nothing that has been contributed by the government and the association has to struggle to keep the game on.

The shocking part is that there are permanent government-appointed coaches or trainers. It is the same story in other districts where the association members are spending from their pockets to provide facilities and coaching to young players.

“The Directorate of Sports also does not have any appointed badminton coaches, which they should have. We have to hire coaches,” said Mewothi Nongpluh, the general secretary of West Jaintia Hills District Badminton Association.

Jowai too has one indoor stadium that was constructed by the government. The other stadiums, about six, are all owned by the community. Describing the poor state of infrastructure, Nongpluh pointed out that even though warehouse-like structures, “the so-called indoor stadiums”, could be seen in many places in other districts, there are no facilities there. “I only see cows grazing around,” he said.

This is the deplorable scenario of badminton in the state at a time when artificial intelligence (AI) has made inroads into the game not only in Western countries but in other parts of India.

Nongpluh said while infrastructure remains a perennial problem, the crucial roadblock is the lack of funds. Even conducting an inter-school championship at a shoestring budget costs district associations more than Rs 1 lakh and members have to pay for the expenses. The state government gives a paltry amount of Rs 1.5 lakh for district championships.

The state championship this year will be in Nongstoin on August 2-5.


It will be audacious to discuss technology in the context of Meghalaya badminton at a juncture when the district associations and the parent body are struggling to keep the players’ spirits up. Nonetheless, it is an important factor in the development of the sport and the players.

While major sports, such as cricket and football, adopted new-age technologies years back, badminton is following suit in the country. In 2019, the International Institute of Information Technology in Hyderabad used AI to get insights into a player’s performance.

However, in Meghalaya, players do not have access to modern fitness equipment. The COVID-19 pandemic added to their woes as training was stopped for about two years. The young members had to practise at home. It is important to mention that the state badminton association donated Rs 50,000 to the CM’s COVID Fund.

Rajesh Kamal, general secretary of the state badminton body, admitted that while technology has become an important part of the game, the state is lacking on that front. But he is hopeful that the government under Conrad Sangma would help in breathing life into the game.

Meghalaya hosted the North East Games last November with grandeur. Of course, there were initial criticisms about the poor arrangements but the glamour and glitter of the event finally overshadowed the larger concerns. It has recently showered benevolence on the state’s football league. In fact, there is quite a buzz on the football front. Then why such a step-motherly attitude towards badminton and other minor sports? The lack of state help is restricting people on the ground from identifying and encouraging young talents.

“It is difficult to grow and achieve something in badminton without a good amount of coaching and constant practice. Grooming has to start at an early age and it requires a lot of motivation and support from many quarters, such as parents, schools, etc,” said Momin.

According to Kamal, the chief minister has definitely taken sports to a certain level and the government’s allocation of Rs 7 lakh for the state championship is proof of that. At the same time, he said that it would take a long time for the state to have infrastructure on par with the national standard. The state body is planning to approach the chief minister for assistance.

The state in the past sent players to the national podium, and with concerted efforts, it can still produce the best players in the country. But that not only requires state funding but also the government’s will to encourage the sport. And the latter is always a pipe dream in Meghalaya.

~ Team Meghalaya Monitor

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