Guwahati on way to becoming the Sporting Capital of India
Though the road to ‘Sporting Capital of India’ tag for Guwahati is still long, 2017 witnessed a plethora of national and international sporting events that has put the city on India’s map as one of the most promising host cities for sports.
The South Asian Games last year had revived the city from eight years of drought of major sporting events since the National Games in 2007 and this year, it hosted the FIFA Under-17 World Cup, AIBA World Youth Women’s Boxing Championship and an India-Australia T20 match among international events besides hosting matches of the ongoing male adult football franchise Indian Super League and Premier Badminton League.
Here is a brief look back at all the major sporting events that the city witnessed in 2017:
AIBA World Youth Women’s Boxing Championship: This was the most successful sporting event for both the city and the country. With five gold medals in different weight categories of which, Assam’s own Ankushita Boro clinched one in the 64 kg weight category, this is the nation’s best performance in an international boxing event. The winning spree was complemented by a surge of boxing enthusiasts coming down to the city to witness the championship which was held between November 19 and November 26.
India-Australia T20 Match: The second T20 match of Australia’s tour to India this year was the first international match at the newly built state-of-the-art ACA Stadium at Barsapara and the crowd went gaga about it. The match got an overwhelming response with the 40,000-seater stadium jam packed and more crowds waiting outside for just a glimpse of their favourite cricketers. India eventually lost the match here on October 10 but won the series as it won the first match at Ranchi on October 7 and the succeeding match at Hyderabad on October 13 got cancelled. The defeat, however, did not dampen the spirit; the stone hurled by an irate youth at the Australia team bus did.
FIFA Under-17 World Cup: The Under-17 World Cup was touted to be the most coveted football event that the northeast has seen. The city was awarded nine matches of the tournament including one semi-final clash between October 8 and 25. The local organising committee (LOC) claimed that the tickets for the matches, sold in four phases, were booked faster than the other six venues, but when the matches were held most of the seats remained empty. According to football critics, the city met all the expectations as a host and the management of the matches were also of international standards. But due to lack of proper promotions it failed to attract crowds. The major dampener however was when the FIFA LOC decided to change the venue for the semi-final fixture between England and Brazil. This snowballed into a case at Basistha police station.
Indian Super League: The fourth edition of ISL, which started from November 17 and will go on till March 4, could not live up to the people’s expectations. Even though nine matches have been slotted in the city, it could not attract much crowd except for the few die hard Northeast United FC supporters. This too seems to be dampening after the team, which is currently at the bottom of the table, managed only one draw and one win in its kitty out of six fixtures.
Premier Badminton League: Like Kabaddi league matches, the badminton leagues too could not manage to get major fan following in the nation. But the league got a fairly good response in its fixtures at the Karmabir Nabin Chandra Bordoloi AC Indoor Stadium at Indira Gandhi Sports Complex here. Four ties, each having five clashes between the eight participating teams including one between Northeastern Warriors and Hyderabad Hunters were played here. Even though the home team lost the clash 2-5, several flocked to the stadium to watch Olympic medallist PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal on the inaugural day. Organisers said that the country’s good performance in the Olympics has made people more aware of the sport and it will soon catch up with other sports.
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